In 1606 some manifestos appeared in Germany opposing the Catholic Church and claiming secret knowledge. Although the Protestant revolution had been ongoing for nearly a hundred years (having been launched in 1516 by an ordained priest at the University of Wittenburg named Martin Luther), these new mystical manifestos drew on Arabic and Greek influences, while Luther’s Reformation was based around the Christian Bible.
Christian Rosenkreuz was listed as author of the manifestos, but many years later Johann Valenntin Andreae (left) claimed credit for authoring at least one of them (the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz) and he revealed the treatise had been initially intended as satire, claiming the fictional Rosenkrutz lived to the advanced age of 106, longevity attributed to a study of Indian mysticism. The secret order was intended to usher in the age of enlightenment and inductees were said to possess magical knowledge that would transform arts and sciences, but according to Andreae it was a hoodwink that took on a life of its own.
The oligarchies have long been fascinated by magic, and easily suckered into a fraudulent seance, and Rosicrucianism became big very quickly because Europe was going through a zeitgeist shift. Secret societies were sprouting everywhere, and many were advancing the concepts of liberty, equality and fraternity, ideas that threatened the status quo ruled by the Church and the monarchies. The largest and most successful secret society was Freemasonry, which had taken much from the outlawed Templars, but Rosicrucianism had a big influence on the evolution of masonry, and some of its mystical concepts were incorporated into the emerging masonic rituals.
But in 1776, a new secret society appeared, and it immediately positioned itself as antagonistic to both the Catholic Church and Rosicrucianism. Interestingly, this new secret society was created by a Jesuit-trained Jewish lawyer who specialized in canon law of the Catholic Church, although his new society did not admit Jews like himself. However, most of the membership never knew his name or his heritage, and a story would be spread on how the Illuminati were actually controlled by a small group of illuminated masters (just like the Rosicrucians supposedly were). This may actually have been the case if Adam Weishaupt was fronting for some hidden force or cabal seeking to infect Freemasonry from within.
Both the Rosicrucians and the Illuminati were recruiting members from within the masonic lodges and other secret societies, but the Illuminati were doing it in great secrecy. Weishaupt’s strategy was to recruit the leader of a lodge because if the leader became Illuminati, the entire lodge could be easily manipulated. Although Weishaupt claimed to be fomenting the downfall of religion and royalty, he was actively recruiting the rich and powerful and seems to have had a somewhat a shifty agenda. Meanwhile, many members of secret societies at the time suspected their lodges had been penetrated by Jesuits, Rosicrucians, Illuminati, or all of the above. It was a very conspiratorial time.
Mt. Vernon, October 24, 1798
Revd Sir: …It was not my intention to doubt that, the Doctrines of the Illuminati, and principles of Jacobinism had not spread in the United States. On the contrary, no one is more satisfied of this fact than I am….
(The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C Fitzpatrick, Editor)
I realize there’s a popular movement afoot led by Madonna and others to resurrect the Illuminati as a force for good, something spearheaded by Robert Anton Wilson many decades ago, but I don’t subscribe to that belief, and view the organization much the same as Washington did in 1798. He considered it a “diabolical” plot to separate “people from their government.”
There’s little doubt the Bonesmen of Yale are the closest thing we have today to Weishaupt’s Illuminati, and Bonesmen have penetrated the upper strata of business, banking and intelligence, not to mention the media and the energy corporations. Their objective seems to be self-enrichment and acquisition of power, and apparently has little to do with enlightenment or helping the common people unlock the chains of exploitation.
It’s funny how Communists organized in secret cells just like the Illuminati. And they also obeyed an unknown central authority at all cost, just like the Illuminati. I’m fascinated by the history of Communism in America because it appears the movement was penetrated and manipulated by spooks from its inception. In April 1958, a leader of the American Communist movement named Morris Childs was sent to the Soviet Union and China to meet with top Communist officials and after three months he returned to secretly report to President Dwight D. Eisenhower and members of his national security staff. Enormous penetration ops were embedding secret agents into both sides of this carefully-managed dialectic from day one.
Simultaneously, in 1947, the CIA created the National Student Association (NSA) during a meeting of student activists in Madison, Wisconsin. Interestingly, there was a strong Catholic block inside the NSA that voted as a group. The NSA was one of the few organizations that openly opposed McCarthy’s anti-Communist movement, quickly leading to allegations they were a Communist front, when, in fact, they were a CIA front pretending to be a Communist front.
It’s funny how so many devout Communists from this era would emerge later in life as Neo-Cons, or how members of the violent Weather Underground got professorships at the Rockefeller-funded University of Chicago, leaving me to wonder if some of these people weren’t spooks all along. John Foster “Chip” Berlet wrote a series of books on student activism for the NSA, and he took thousands of photos of student activists during this period. He also became an active shop steward for the National Lawyers’ Guild, which also opposed McCarthism and was similarly accused of being a Communist front, leaving me to wonder about its possible CIA-connections.
Today Berlet runs a think tank for the CIA-connected Ford Foundation, and has become the leading authority debunking conspiracy theories involving 9/11 and the CIA. Strangely, he momentarily became the Washington DC editor for High Times, and wrote an attack on Lyndon LaRouche that was published in that magazine. LaRouche appears to be an intelligence operation himself because there is migration from his staff to the Pentagon, as in the case of Laurent Murawiec, who became an analyst for the CIA-connected RAND corporation while writing articles for the highly conspiratorial Executive Intelligence Review, leading me to believe there are some staged confrontations and dialectical games at play here.
Was Communism created as an op from day one or was it was merely penetrated and taken over after taking root? There’s likely a reason why nearly every modern revolution and progressive movement against colonialism and imperialism has been subverted by Communists and that reason may be because Communism looks a lot like fascism in disguise.
Could the Jesuits have created the Illuminati to derail the enlightenment? Did MI6 promote Communism for a similar purpose? When dealing with the wonderful world of spooks difficult questions like these should be considered carefully because intelligence operations are designed as a wilderness of mirrors where up is down, left is right, and although people have the power whenever they want to take it, and could vote away the wealth of the oligarchy if they were better organized with more effective, focused leadership, and there’s plenty enough resources to take care of everyone if only they could be better distributed, in truth, any successful movement that supports an agenda like that will instantly be penetrated by spooks.
Somerset Maugham was well on his way to becoming a doctor when he published a novel and after the first edition sold out in a week, he chucked his career in medicine and became the highest-paid author in England, forging a trail now ruled by J.K. Rowling. It wasn’t until recently that MI6 admitted Somerset was a spook.
While frauds like Mark Passio scare people with complex dogmas constructed out of coincidence, I will reveal the real secrets of brainwashing. Somerset had an agenda and inspired Ian Fleming to create the dashing James Bond, but that’s another story.
Very early in his career, Somerset wrote a book titled The Magician, a thinly-veiled attack on Aleister Crowley, accusing him of ritual murder and other unspeakable acts of black magic. Strange that eventually both these characters would be unmasked as agents of MI6, which leads to the possibility their little mini-war may have been staged all along. Crowley’s sinister reputation was sealed by Somerset’s book. It made Crowley famous, while splitting the world into two factions, one fearing, despising and hating Crowley; the other just wanting to learn his secrets.
After the first World War, there were a lot of PTSD-damaged Americans left behind in Europe seeking healing and many were self-medicating with alcohol, hash and opium. Somerset wrote a highly influential book about these times titled The Razor’s Edge, and that book, like his one on Crowley, left many false impressions that linger today.
When I think of Somerset, I picture him as Herbert Marshal, the English actor who played him in the original 1946 movie. In fact, a new hardback edition of the book was soon published, and it used the two lead actors from the film for the cover. Marshal captured Somerset’s homosexuality in a very understated and elegant manner, although he ignored Somerset’s stuttering problem.
But the book and film actually led people away from enlightenment, while pretending to point them in the right direction.
This is because intoxication is painted as the greatest evil. The protagonist winds up in India seeking enlightenment and is told by a swami to meditate alone in a cave until he reaches some satori moment, after which he returns to Paris an expert in mind control and hypnosis. He winds up trying to stop a friend from medicating herself and when he discovers her in a hash and opium den, gets into a huge fistfight while attempting to remove her from the scene.
Because of this film, millions of young people around the world were led to believe enlightenment could be found on a mountain top in Tibet, and not through sacramental substances.
Which happens to be the reverse of the real situation. Yes, deep meditation can be very useful and may be required to quiet a restless mind, but the magical and medicinal plants are important tools deserving respect. The guru portrayed by Somerset did not really plunge into real enlightenment at all, and was a one-dimensional caricature who paved the way for a parade of charlatans to profiteer off popularizing Eastern philosophies.
Whenever I find an effort to lead people away from cannabis and other medicinal plants, I suspect the forces of propaganda may be at work. Had Somerset really wanted to enlighten people, he would have been explaining how wars were staged for profit and social control, and the prohibition of medicinal plants was just a part of the scam to reap higher profits and construct monopolies.
This is how paradigms are actually forged and how memes are seeded into the mass media by intelligence operations. And the wonderful thing about the Internet is how all this information is gradually being filtered and processed so as to make it harder to conceal such operations in the future.
Dr. William Petit and his family had every reason to feel safe and secure living in Chelsea, Connecticut, birthplace of John Holmstrom and Legs McNeil, and one of the more classic All-American towns in New England. However, since 2007, Chelsea has been known as the site of a gruesome home invasion eerily similar to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. And it’s funny how we’ve learned so little since that book came out, as revealed by a spell-binding HBO documentary so powerful it takes you deep into the dark side. I missed this film the first time around when it appeared two years ago, but the documentary is back in rotation on HBO this month and I urge you to watch it provided you have a strong stomach.
“KK” is the smiling 11-year-old blonde in the above picture, and also the reason Joshua Komisarjevsky decided to visit the Petit house that night. He spotted the little girl with her mother at a supermarket and followed them to their nearby home. Because it was a nice, big house, he decided to target them for his next creepy-crawly adventure. Joshua had recently met fellow ex-con Steven Hayes at a halfway house and Steven was desperate for money having just been kicked out of his mother’s home for falling off the wagon. Stealing money was easy for creepy-crawly Josh. He was probably more interested in raping KK.
The part about psychos many people don’t understand is how easily they mimic compassionate people and use fake empathy to get inside someone’s head before launching some devious plot designed to inflict emotional and physical distress. Josh obviously has a high IQ and talents as an artist, but preferred donning a black hoodie and black jeans, putting on night-vision goggles, and creepy-crawling around the neighborhood, sometimes just to listen to people breathing in their sleep, but mostly to steal whatever he could.
Like many psychos, Josh had been sexually abused as a child. His initial tormentor was an older foster brother, and soon Josh was abusing his younger foster sister as well. This is the real vampire culture because many children who are sexually abused go on to abuse other children, perpetuating an endless cycle of terror and violence on kids. Josh was an adopted child himself and raised by a famous Russian family of the arts. He’d also become a father after impregnating a teenage girl, and was in the process of trying to wrest sole custody of his daughter, probably so he could rape her.
Here’s an example of Joshua’s art, so you can see his skills. Perhaps with the right therapy, he might have been rehabilitated, but probably not. Josh didn’t get therapy, however, because his parents were devout Christians who felt the solution to problems could be found in prayer. Steven was also the father of two young children, although he’d spent most of his life either behind bars or on drug binges. He’d managed to stay sober for four years before flying off the handle. Like Josh, Steven had been having emotional problems since early childhood.
Aside from three violent deaths and two rapes, there are two other sad elements to this story. The police response is a scandal never properly addressed. The police established a perimeter around the home before anyone was killed, and had they gone immediately into the house everyone might have survived. But when the two perps realized the house was surrounded, they lost it. Steven went into a rage and strangled the mom for ratting them out at the bank. They poured gasoline on the two girls who were tied to their bed posts upstairs. Then they set a massive fire in the kitchen, got into their vehicle and tried to drive away, although they ended up ramming a police car while exiting the driveway. At that point, both girls were still alive, although police would soon hear screams from the upstairs. They seemed far more interested in catching perps than saving victims. A lawsuit could have been filed against the police for ineptitude, but that never happened because the family was more interested in getting “justice.”
If you understand In Cold Blood, you realize it’s a passionate plea to end all state-sanctioned murder, and fortunately that’s the direction our country is moving in. The two killers were willing to plead guilty and receive life imprisonment with no hope of parole to spare the agony of a long, protracted trial, but instead the state spent over $7 million to secure a death sentence. It’s eerie how hard the surviving family pushed for execution, believing it was needed to provide closure, when, in fact, closure only comes when survivors forgive perpetrators.
One of the children’s grandparents is a United Methodist minister who’s church has fervently opposed the death penalty for over 50 years, yet he also ended up fighting hard to get the two killers executed, something that will likely never happen, and it shouldn’t because an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.
Four years ago, immediately after the White House announced Osama bin Laden had been killed by a Navy Seal Team, I wrote a column for High Times detailing how fishy the story was, but High Times declined to publish it, so my column ended up on this blog. (“No Truth to Osama Murder Story”). Strange every detail I brought into question has since been confirmed by award-winning investigative reporter Sy Hersh. Primary among my suspicions was the convenient death of the supposed Gitmo detainee who had supposedly led the Seals to the compound where Osama was hiding. Not only was this murder played to help reelect Obama, it was the trump card proving the years running Gitmo had not been a waste. So of course, the Gitmo element was a complete fabrication.
The world media is lining up on two sides: one continuing to believe the completely phony official story, and the other believing the one being told by Hersh. But there’s no reason to believe either is completely accurate simply because both depend upon sources inside the National Security Establishment and those people seldom reveal the entire truth. Political history is a carefully stage-managed affair.
Two people were likely killed in Pakistan during that Seal raid, but we don’t really know who. Was it Osama, or a lookalike stand-in being kept captive by ISI? And if we really wanted to get to the bottom of 9/11, wouldn’t an interrogation of the supposed mastermind be of invaluable assistance in the quest? So why was this mission designed as an assassination instead of a simple kidnapping? And who ordered this assassination, because it reeks of a cover-up. And why weren’t any of the Bin Laden family living in the compound allowed to talk to anyone before being hustled back to Saudi Arabia in secret?
(A shorter and slightly different form of this story first appeared in the April 2015 issue of Freedom Leaf.)
You can trace a line from Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady to Ken Kesey and Ken Babbs to Steve and Dave, who entered San Rafael High School in the late sixties. They were rugged individualists uninspired by the social scene, which centered on athletics and the school’s top jocks, so they decided to create their own fun by embarking on a quest for adventure. The first of these was a visit to a Bay Area research lab developing the very first holographs. Soon, Jeff, Larry and Mark joined the safaris, as these adventures became known.
Every safari started with a sacramental hit of cannabis, followed by the cranking of the tunes, either in the 1966 4-door Chevy Impala with the killer Craig 8-track stereo system, or in Steve’s room, or in one of other sacred spots they shared herb, as getting high was illegal and couldn’t be done in public or around parents. One of their favorite spots was underneath the statue of Louis Pasteur by Benny Bufano, which overlooked the school parking lot. Sacred hymns provided by New Riders of the Purple Sage, Allman Brothers, Poco, Commander Cody, Beatles, The Moonlighters were then employed to lift the vibration higher.
This crew gravitated to a wall inside the courtyard of San Rafael High, where they’d meet before class and during lunch break to make withering comments about everything around them, and this is where they obtained their name: The Waldos, as well as where they honed their savage wit. You couldn’t smoke pot around school unless it was a one-hitter and done extremely carefully, and even then you risked suspension and your parent’s wrath.
In the fall of 1971 Steve was given a treasure map to an abandoned patch of cannabis on Point Reyes that had been planted by a member of the Coast Guard too scared to return. He wanted some fellow stoners to have the patch, and everybody at San Rafael knew the Waldos were frequent stoners.
“Surely, this is the ultimate safari,” thought Steve. “No more adventurous nor noble quest could be devised by the mind of man.” The Waldos prophetically all agreed to meet at 4:20 PM at the Louis Pasteur Statue to get high, and drive out to Point Reyes to search for the secret patch of weed. From then on, whenever the Waldos passed each other in the halls, they spontaneously erupted in a salute with the words, “Four Twenty Louie!” Little did they know how far this ritual would eventually travel, although “Louie” got lost along the way.
For the next ten years, the Waldos went on the most amazing safaris and had the most magical adventures, although they sadly never found that patch. But they always sponsored a big pot party on April 20th, where a ceremonial toke would take place at 4:20 PM. Eventually they started getting married, having families and picking up the sacred pipe less frequently. However, they kept up the safaris.
But as soon as the Waldo’s retired from staging 420 ceremonies, the younger classmen of San Rafael picked up on the magic of numerology and began using the code as a way to evade detection, and some of them started a ritual of congregating on a ridge of Mount Tamalpias with a sunset view of the Pacific on April 20th in order to get high at exactly 4:20 PM as a way to honor the spirit of cannabis. This ritual started with only a few souls, but soon grew to dozens. And that’s when someone got the idea of making a flyer inviting stoners from all over the Bay Area to the ceremony. Nobody outside Marin even knew that 420 signified pot. But even those gathered at the top of Mt. Tam didn’t have any idea how the code had started. They thought it had something to do with the police.
I’m often knee-deep before I realize what I stepped into, and that’s how it was with the Cannabis Cup. The idea came to me on the plane, while flying back from the Netherlands after interviewing the founder of the first marijuana seed company, Nevil Shoemakers. The night before, Dave Watson had regaled me with tales of California harvest festivals before C.A.M.P. helicopters forced that scene underground.
Soon, I was back in the Netherlands, organizing the first Cannabis Cup, with a photographer and grow expert. Three seed companies entered, and one of them didn’t even cure their entries but plucked them fresh off the vine.
But when I returned home after that first event, I couldn’t shake a feeling of responsibility. My event demanded a ceremonial framework respecting the true spirit of cannabis and its historical importance and influence. And that’s how I ended up buying a paperback version of the Rig Veda.
Imagine my surprise when I came across the description of the primary sacrament shared during all ceremonies, a drink called Soma:
“The blind see, the lame walk… he clothes the naked. Soma is a sage and seer inspired by poetry …King of the healing plants.”
I knew Soma was supposed to be a mushroom, something accepted as gospel by the academic community, but in my heart, I instantly realized this had to be a description of cannabis, and there had to be some incredible cover-up going on that dwarfed the cover-up Jack Herer was pushing about the industrial uses and environmental benefits of hemp.
I stepped out of my office to smoke a joint and reflect on these matters, something I had been doing in my office, but had recently departed, as I had moved to a former warehouse in the back of the building, something necessitated by a crackdown on smoking. But the crackdown had just been extended to the warehouse as well, so I sought refuge in the stairwell.
Steve Bloom, the recently appointed news editor was there, along with some hippie dude I didn’t know, and he proceeded to pull out a stash of whippets and he began inhaling them in rapid succession. Bloom asked when he was going to share, and he said, “Sorry, I only have my dose and nothing more.”
I fired my joint, while Bloom showed me a flyer he’d been handed while attending a recent Grateful Dead show in Oakland. “Check this out,” he said. “It’s really silly.”
I don’t have immense satori moments often, but I’d been time traveling through the Vedas for hours and still had a foot in distant past, so when I saw that crude flyer asking people to come to the sunset-view ridge of Mt. Tam at 4:20 PM on April 20th, it assumed Biblical proportions in my mind, and I expressed these feelings instantly, because this was a sign, and something that could be employed to give meaning to my Cannabis Cup ceremony and also help make marijuana legal. But for those not into numerology or the study of secret societies, this is just silliness with no meaning. Some people “got” 420 and employed the magic to enhance their cannabis experience and help legitimize pot in ceremony, while for others, it remained a joke and nothing more.
Certainly Chef RA, Jack Herer, Rodger Belknap, Thom Harris, Linda Noel and Debby Goldsberry “got” 420. They were the shock troops in the hemp legalization movement, who helped me found the Freedom Fighters, the first national hemp legalization group. For many years we drove to rallies in a Psychedelic Bus (a new one each year as they were always breaking down). We hosted free campgrounds, with free kitchens, and published a free newsletter. Back then, the rallies were all held at precisely high noon, a trend that would continue for well over a decade. But the Freedom Fighters always held council at 4:20 PM, passed a feather and plotted how to best legalize in our lifetime.
Debby Goldsberry became the most dedicated member of that original crew, and quickly broke off to create her own organization. The half dozen rallies we attended were not enough to keep her occupied, as she created her own tour that hit almost every college town in the Midwest, while we concentrated on Ann Arbor, Madison, Boston, and the Rainbow Family Gatherings.
Starting in 1988, every April 1st, in Ann Arbor, we assembled to elect a Freedom Fighter of the Year, someone sent on an all-expense-paid trip to Amsterdam to be a judge at the Cannabis Cup. Thom Harris was the first selected, and Rodger Belknap the second, then came Elvy Musikka, Gatewood Galbraith followed by Jack Herer. In 1990, this annual ceremony was moved to 4:20 PM and stayed there for the remainder of the group’s existence.
In 1993, I held the first 420 council at the Cannabis Cup, but it was a clumsy ceremony, as no one but me had any idea what 420 represented, including Jack Herer. Some people will claim 420 was already widespread within the Grateful Dead community in the 1980s, but that is not true. It was known to teenagers who lived in Marin County. But in 1994, at the 7th Cup, my 420 ceremony blossomed and became epic and stayed that way for the next 15 years or so. Most of the chiefs of cannabis you’ll find in Amsterdam today attended that first big 420 ceremony and spoke from their hearts. Eagle Bill was a major force elevating those ceremonies and it could not have happened like it did without him. I ran into Bill on my way to open the Pax Party House on opening day, and noticed he carried a hand-carved staff. I asked if he would like to be the ceremonial high priest and use his staff in place of a feather. The impact of this request on Eagle Bill was profound. To say Eagle Bill “got” 420 would be a vast understatement, as he rapidly elevated to become the primary guiding spirit of the event.
I was arranging everything around the afternoon 420, but the crew got so devoted they began doing 420 AM ceremonies, and these rapidly became the most legendary parties at the Cup and everyone collected photos of themselves under the clock at exactly 4:20.
In 1995, Vancouver got credit for staging the first April 20th 420 ceremony outside Marin County. Marc Emery, Dana Rozek, Cindy Lassu and Ian Hunter had a hand in manifesting this event, although Marc was initially opposed to the concept. It continues today as the longest-running April 20th ceremony in North America. A few years later Debby Goldsberry staged the first major 420 event in the Bay Area in Golden Gate Park, although it turned into a one-off. However, the already established free 420 gathering on hippie hill continues to this day. The Mt. Tam sunset ridge ceremony was shut down in 1990.
Even though High Times became the magazine success story of the 90’s and the Freedom Fighters spearheaded the return of the rallies, re-igniting the sleeping marijuana movement, success only seemed to bring problems for me, as I was soon forced to disband the Freedom Fighters and there were constant pressures to shut down the Cup as well, or at least remove my supervision. I moved home to concentrate on events and how to document them for posterity as I felt there was something important in these 420 ceremonies I was manifesting. At the time, I was primarily interested in building up WHEE! as the premiere cannabis event in North America.
I’d been trying for years to get Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters over to the Cannabis Cup, and had lured Mountain Girl when she was poor and adventurous, but at one point realized if I wanted to do a ceremony with Kesey, it was going to have to happen in his backyard, and that’s what happened. The first year (1997) we had over 300 vendors and 20,000 attendees.
Of course the Pranksters “got” 420 immediately, and the reason the code suddenly began skyrocketing through the Grateful Dead scene was threefold: first, Rainbow Family and Dead Family were basically the same thing and the Freedom Fighters and 420 had acquired a huge presence at Rainbow; second, Jack Herer and Chef RA “got” 420 and they became influential figures and spread the code; and three, and probably most important, the Pranksters “got” 420, and began actively pushing it. And Kesey was the most influential person in the Dead scene after Jerry Garcia.
One day, I got an email from Mike, the travel agent of the Cannabis Cup, who had been made producer of the event with me directing the ceremonies. He forwarded a message from Steve in San Francisco who claimed to have started 420 with his friends in 1971. The part that caught my attention was Steve wasn’t seeking money, he just wanted 420Tours.com to know the real story. He was writing to the Cannabis Cup travel package website because Mike had put up a forum for posting 420 Cannabis Cup stories, and this website drew the attention of the Waldos, who had been following the spread of 420 across America with much mirth and amazement.
By 2002, headshops in the Bay Area were stuffed with 420-t-shirts, buttons, hats, posters, and various other memorabilia. The code has become a well-known secret inside cannabis culture and been written about in High Times and celebrated as the central ceremony in the Cannabis Cup and WHEE!, the two biggest and most influential cannabis-themed events at the time (if you don’t count Kumba Mela). Still, however, outside the Bay Area, the code remained an enigma, even to most stoners.
I ended up flying out to San Francisco and meeting the Waldos and holding epic ceremonies with them for days, all of which were captured on video, as were my 420 ceremonies with the Pranksters and the elders of the Rainbow Family. In fact, whenever I get together with Pranksters, Waldos or Rainbow Elders, the same magic improvisational energy always emerges, as well as an overwhelming desire to have fun. I never doubted the Waldo’s story, and read the truth in their hearts before I examined their documents. But the powers-that-be at High Times never trusted me, and the publisher spread the story I was suppressing competing tales on the origins of 420 because the Waldos were my friends, implying it all a massive hoodwink on my part. And that’s the way this story appears on Wikipedia today.
I also began a college lecture tour in 1995, debating Curtis Sliwa for five years, and then the former head of the New York DEA for additional 14, and “Heads versus Feds” traveled to over 300 colleges and universities over 19 years and I end each debate with a plea for the creation of a local student-run legalization group, and urge the students to hold annual events on April 20th, and have local bands play to raise money for the chapter. That line about April 20th often gets a laugh from the audience, and about half the time, I’m able to get volunteers to start a sign-up sheet for a chapter of NORML for the first five years, before I switched to advocating for SSDP. At many debates the list of prospective members reaches several dozen before I depart the lecture hall, and some of these chapters actually get off the ground. Enough for SSDP to follow the tour remotely as it moves around the country, and that’s probably why Allen St. Pierre of NORML said recently: “Without Hager, I don’t think there’s any way that this interesting numerology that has crept deep into American culture and commerce would have happened.”
One of the earliest schools we traveled to for the Heads versus Feds debate was Boulder, Colorado, and that school soon started a 420 ceremony that got so big the University had to shut down the entire school on April 20th just to try and stop it. And I think that’s one reason why Denver got the center of energy of 420. Colorado was always the most vocally pro-pot state I visited.
I’ve long supported the view 420 should be used to help ritualize and legitimize cannabis as a sacrament. I’m not in favor of students doing breakfast dabs and going off to take their calculus exam, and I realize some get attracted to intoxication too early in life, and it holds them back, but on the other hand, I don’t believe anyone should go to jail, lose a student loan, or lose child custody over cannabis. So I suggest using 4:20 PM as a guide for an appropriate hour for the adult population to hold a cannabis ceremony, although this certainly doesn’t apply to those with a medical need. If you’re having a medical emergency, dabs away.
I’m hoping some who read this will “get” 420, and consider lifting the ceremony to a higher level, something more meaningful than just an excuse to get intoxicated. Only then will we be able to help forge a spiritual culture worthy of being handed down to future generations. One thing I learned after 30 years at High Times: The less you do, the higher you get. If you want to treat this plant with respect, there is magic, but for some others who use it without wisdom or who become too attached too soon, it’s just an expensive habit. The other thing I’ve learned is that if you want to have a true counterculture ceremony, everyone must be invited, which means it has to be free.
(P.S. Please visit the Waldos at www.420waldos.com for more information on their history.)
Grandmaster Flash has opened up the longstanding debate on the basic elements of hip hop culture. In a recent interview, he stated writing has nothing to do with hip hop, and should be considered a separate movement apart, and not an integral element. In fact, Flash blamed the media for incorporating writing into hip hop, and a lot of writers immediately agreed with his position.
I have to admit being a bit stung by some of his comments because I wrote the first major magazine article on the subculture and put the words “hip hop” into play in the national media, and included writing as a part of the culture.
Writing was a city-wide phenomenon that started in the late 1960s in upper Manhattan and spread to the South Bronx before going all city, all boroughs. It spread quickly wherever there were subway tracks and trains. When the original masters of the first generation emerged as gallery artists calling themselves United Graffiti Artists, almost all were from the South Bronx, and the list was headed by Phase 2 and Bama.
Few realize today Kool Herc began as a writer, long before he got his first deejay system, and he ran with Phase 2 and Stay High 149, both of whom would go on to have epic status. Herc threw his first jam in 1973, and hip hop was his to incubate for the first three years. Coke La Rock was the first emcee during this period, inventing lines like “you rock and you don’t stop,” and putting “ski” on the end of everything. Coke was also the weed dealer, as well as emcee and deejay whenever Herc took a break. I’m pretty sure Herc considers graf a part of his culture, why else would he pose in front of it?
In 1977, Afrika Bambaataa began forming what soon became known as the Universal Zulu Nation, dedicated to peace, unity and having fun. Bambaataa declared that deejaying, emceeing, breaking and writing were the four elements of what he named “hip hop,” a phrase invented by Cowboy and made popular by Lovebug Starski. You simply can’t discard the fact the primary visionary behind this movement expressly included writing as a part of the culture from its inception. Bambaataa will tell you he had this vision of a new culture in 1974, shortly after he discovered Kool Herc, so he dates the birth of hip hop not with Herc’s first jam in 1973, but a year later.
There have always been hundreds of writers who say hip hop never influenced them, and they are correct. Most writers never attended a hip hop jam, and didn’t know much about the culture until the media began covering it around 1980, and even then, awareness moved very slow at first because there was so much resistance to recognizing the culture. But it is incorrect to say the media invented the “graf-rap” connection, because that honor goes to Bambaataa.
In 1981, I went to an exhibit titled “New York/New Wave” at PS 1 curated by Diego Cortez. Although panned in the Village Voice, that show changed my life. There was a huge room filled with photos of over a hundred subway cars, but one in particular drew my interest. I’d recently been given a copy of “The Breaks” by Kurtis Blow, which had recently become the second 12-inch gold record in history, and the first rap song to go gold as well. The subway car that caught my eye was “Break” by Futura 2000. I contacted Diego, got Futura’s phone number, and ended up attending a Soul Artists meeting on the Upper West Side. Futura introduced me to Fred Brathwaite, who gave me Bambaataa’s phone number. And that’s how I ended up writing a story called “Afrika Bambaataa’s Hip Hop” for the Village Voice. So, I entered this universe through graffiti, and while I respect Flash and the many writers who reject any hip hop-graf connection, I know one actually does exist.
Tom Forcade came to New York City from Arizona to work for the Underground Press Syndicate (UPS) formed by six of the largest underground newspapers in 1966, a list that included John Wilcock’s East Village Other. When Tom arrived, the UPS offices and archives were located in Jim Fouratt’s apartment, but soon moved into Tom’s after he took over.
Tom was suspicious of Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, and questioned their qualifications to lead the movement, so rather than join the Yippies, he created his own counter-revolutionary movement, and to make sure everyone knew where he was coming from, he named it the Zippies, implying it was the peppy alternative to last year’s revolutionaries. Tom would have been the public face, except he was also a pot smuggler and dealer, which forced him to stay in the background, which may have contributed to his jealousy concerning Abbie who was always on the mic. Tom eventually built a speakeasy in Manhattan that sold pot by the pound to dealers, a place where suitcases were stacked to the ceiling.
According to a major pot dealer of the period, Tom began working with a Mossad agent on some big projects shortly after arriving in New York. Apparently, this agent eventually committed suicide. Tom used to tell this dealer if the Feds ever came after him, he had information that would embarrass them. But soon Tom committed suicide as well.
A.J. Weberman was one of the biggest weed dealers in New York at the time, and he became Tom’s co-conspirator in creating the Zippies after he discovered Tom had a better, cheaper connection than he did. Weberman also ran a weapons training camp in the Catskills for volunteers wishing to help defend Israel from Arab annihilation. After outing Bob Dylan as a dabbler in heroin, Weberman wrote a book on the JFK assassination stating Watergate burglar Frank Sturgis was one of the tramps and also a shooter, a view he holds to this day.
While Sturgis was up-to-his-neck in the plot, and undoubtedly drove the murder weapons from Florida to Texas, he is neither one of the tramps from the famous photos nor a likely shooter for JFK. However, a new book by Roger Stone claims Stugis was enlisted a few years after the JFK hit to assassinate President Richard Nixon.
According to Stone, the CIA feared Nixon was going dovish on Vietnam, and they also greatly resented his detente move with China. Sturgis was told to procure weapons and make preparations for staging a confrontation between Yippies versus Zippies that would erupt in gunfire, and during this melee, Sturgis was to make sure Nixon got fatally shot.
Sturgis went ahead and got the guns, but when it was finally revealed who the target was, he backed out. Later on the CIA employed the Watergate burglary as a lever with which to unseat Nixon.
Last year, Stone released a book claiming Lyndon Johnson engineered the Kennedy assassination, and while I’m sure Johnson was aware of the plot, it’s unlikely his power extended to the top of the Pentagon and CIA. So even though Stone is a beltway insider once close to Nixon, I don’t fully trust his judgment on some key issues. But he does bring interesting information to the table.
Some say Nixon bought his detente move with China by returning one of hundreds of funds created from black market gold stolen during WWII and then disappeared. Much of that gold originated in China and had been buried in the Philippines for years before being washed by Opus Dei working with some Bonesmen. At least that’s the story I’ve been able to piece together.
But now I’m wondering more about the possible double agents planted inside the Zippies and Yippies who were going to instigate the melee so Nixon might be killed. It seems fascinating the Yippie-Zippie split was well-known at the highest levels of the CIA, almost as if they had a hand in instigating it, but as someone who once had access to Tom’s correspondence and private writings, I have to say I don’t believe he was a spook, although he may have been surrounded by them, some of whom have yet to be identified.