The CIA Created the Drug Culture
By Henry Makow Ph.D.
April 12, 2008
In the 1950's, the CIA experimented with LSD for use in interrogation and as a weapon.
In the 1960's they used this weapon to divert idealistic Americans from the path of social responsibility to one of introspection and self-gratification, i.e. "spiritual liberation."
They neutralized my generation by turning social activists into "flower children" advocating "peace and love."
The mantra of the age was "Tune in, Turn on and Drop Out". The prophet was psychologist, Dr. Timothy Leary (1920-1996).Was Leary working for the CIA?
Writer Mark Reibling put this question to the aged guru in 1994 after a speech in Gainesville Florida.
"They never gave me a dime," Leary replied with a pained expression, and then avoided his questioner.
In fact, Leary did get money from them but not very much. When I visited him about 1990 he was strained for money. More later.
While not a CIA agent, Reibling makes a convincing case that Leary was their dupe. The CIA promotes people who believe in a cause but are unaware they are advancing the New World Order agenda.
Like most intelligence agencies, the CIA does not represent national interests. It was created by British intelligence and serves the London-based central bankers.
The CIA said they sponsored radicals, liberals and leftists as "an alternative to Communism." This is not true. They did it to introduce a different style of Communism.
Behind the rhetorical facade, Communism is state-monopoly capitalism, controlled by the bankers and administered by the state. The people who own the US Federal reserve also control Russian industry and resources.
Funds and drugs for Leary's research came from the CIA. In his autobiography, "Flashbacks" (1983), Leary credits Cord Meyer, the CIA executive in charge of funding the lib-left and counter culture with "helping me to understand my political cultural role more clearly."
Elsewhere he says the "Liberal CIA" is the "best mafia you can deal with in the Twentieth Century." (These references are from Reibling's groundbreaking must-read article: "Was Leary a CIA agent?" - see below) Leary clearly was working for the CIA but was doing what he wanted-turning on.
Like Leary, we were all dupes.
A Generation of Marionettes
When I was a child I used to lie in bed at night and read TIME and NEWSWEEK from cover to cover. At the age of 12, I helped organize marches for world hunger relief. At 14, the marches were for Negro Civil Rights.
In 1964, while still concerned with the American Negro, I noticed that I was dancing alone. The party had moved to another room. Vietnam was now the cause celebre. It was as if someone (i.e. the CIA-controlled media) had mysteriously blown a whistle.
I participated in a rising crescendo of anti-war activity. In 1968, after the gut-wrenching assassinations of King and Robert Kennedy, LBJ's decision not to seek reelection (his CFR handlers told him to go) and the clubbing of protesters at the Democratic Convention in Chicago deflated the anti-war movement.
Then, acting in unison like a flock of birds, my generation gave up on social change, became "alienated" and "turned inward." Maybe we needed to change ourselves, we reasoned, before we can change the world. Thanks to the CIA, drugs were plentiful and Leary's mantra was echoed in the mass media.
Although it was another ten years before I tried marijuana, I experienced the "Summer of Love" hitchhiking across Canada in 1967. Maybe it was time to "hang loose" and focus on personal things. The 1970's became the "Me Decade."
The protest years weren't a complete waste. Before getting into bed, my first lover made me recount the history of the Vietnam War in detail to make sure I "was serious."
My sister and brother-in-law turned me on to marijuana on my 26th birthday. I saw myself as a choo-choo train ascending a steep grade billowing black smoke. My life was a strain. Marijuana was a revelation. It helped me get "out of myself." I took up yoga.
Although I have never experienced LSD, I embraced the utopian vision of Timothy Leary and Aldous Huxley. With considerable justification, they believed that "mind expanding" drugs could provide a genuine visionary experience and release mankind's spiritual potential. In experiments, theology students had life changing revelations; alcoholics were cured. For millennia, many cultures have used drugs to promote spirituality.
In Mexico, Leary took magic mushrooms. The experience convinced him the normal mind was "a static repetitive circuit."
"It was above all and without question the deepest religious experience of my life. I discovered that beauty, revelation, sensuality, the cellular history of the past, God, the devil, all lie inside my body, outside my mind."
This LSD-fueled vision of utopia was put into practice at the highest levels of the US government. In 1963, Cord Meyer's estranged wife Mary Pinchot Meyers was having an affair with President John F. Kennedy who had embraced LSD. Mary approached Leary for supplies and advice. She and her friends were turning on "some of the most powerful men in Washington."
In Dec. 1963, Meyer called Leary and said they killed JFK because "they couldn't control him anymore. He was changing too fast. They've covered everything up. I'm afraid. Be careful." In Oct. 1964, she was murdered.
My Weekend With Timothy Leary
I had a serious case of hero worship when I visited Timothy Leary around 1990. I had contacted him through his publisher and he phoned me. I wanted to meet the guru to see if the utopian vision he represented was still alive.
I was disillusioned. By this time Leary was fixated on the benefits of the "information superhighway." His pantry table was crammed with bottles of alcohol. He told me his "vision of God" was depicted in the last scene in William Gibson's book "Neuromancer."
"At the end of the world, all the information stored in all the computers will rise up into Cyberspace and mingle together." he said. "That's God."
Wonderful, I thought. All those airline reservations mingling together.
At lunch, I tried to remind him of his original vision: using drugs to awaken our spiritual potential and become more God-like in behavior.
"What do you think God is?" he scoffed. "An old man with a beard?"
Prophets sometimes lose their vision. I think this is what happened with Leary. But he was very generous with his time and hospitality. He was a genuine idealist.
I ferried him around Los Angeles in my rented car. He was appearing in a music video made by an obscure band. He was to earn $300. He lived in a nice house but he was not rich. I took him to see his daughter by his first marriage. She lived in public housing in the valley.
The effects of marijuana and LSD vary wildly. Depending on the individual, the setting and quality, people can have positive or negative results. Similarly the drug culture has been a mixed bag. It has given millions the opportunity to escape the suffocating box of modern materialism and discover their spiritual birthright. It has been a gateway to religion. In my case, it confirmed Christ's message that God is Love.
But too many have given up on protest and social change. They feel that "fighting the darkness" just "brings me down."
For me, detachment from the world was a limbo in which I drifted for years. I now believe in the Path of Service. We gain meaning by doing our Creator's work. We become human beings by becoming God's agent in matters large and small.
Our world-view and concerns are totally manipulated by the London-based Masonic bankers through the CIA, mass media and public education. For example, the Iraq War hasn't aroused a protest similar to Vietnam. Why? The answer lies in the treatment in the mass media. The bankers want Iraq to succeed; they wanted Vietnam to fail.
We are marionettes. The environment, fe-manism, diversity, you name it. The bankers are pulling our strings. In the case of the drug culture, they made us self absorbed and quiescent. They didn't expect many of us to find God.
It's time to rediscover social responsibility and uphold the Divine Order against the satanic New World Order.
--------------------------Note: A reader has drawn my attention to an interview in the book "Mass Control" by Jim Keith where Leary admits to being a "witting accomplice" of the CIA.
Note For more information, read "Acid Dreams: The Social History of LSD. CIA, the 60's and Beyond" by Martin Lee and Bruce Shlain.
Also: "Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream" by Jay Stevens.
Comments for "The CIA Created the Drug Culture"
James said (May 3, 2005):
Dear Dr. Henry,
Interesting article I think...Have any of us read "Do It" by they late Jerry Rubin? In this book, he states that Marijuana is a communist drug and that his group got "Esso Money"....this should tell us the true intentions of what the bosses of Big Business wants from their customers, or yet what the US wants from its peoples of the different races....
I have for some time believed that the CIA is a group which wants to destroy the rugged make up of the North American people, this won't matter whether what race or group one is a member of. they want to destroy us all.
Tim was only a cog, and FBI agents like G. Gordon Liddy at the time was a person who was a tool of this conspiracy to fool right thinking people into beliveing that the US government was really concerned about the moral decay of it's society, while in fact, the government is sponsoring it's downfall....
Thanks again for another good and insightful article. We must be always watchful...
Kyle said (May 2, 2005):
Hi Henry, I just read your latest article. You wrote "The CIA promotes people who believe in a cause but are unaware they are advancing the New World Order". This reminded me of hearing Dr. Deepak Chopra interviewed on NPR a while ago. He was talking about a program to get people to form peace groups all over the world. I do believe that the more peace and love we have on a planet the better, yet when I put deepak chopra peace groups into a search engine I saw an article about the kick off event for this thing and the keynote speaker was Al (blood drinking) Gore. hmmmmm I passed. You also wrote "...Communism is monopoly capitalism..." which reminded me of this quote (I dont' recall who it is attributed too)---"In Communism man exploits man, in Capitalism its just the opposite". Kyle
Geneva said (May 2, 2005):
Interesting comments. I came to the same conclusion you did about the drugculture. Neuromancer, IMO, was one of the most grim and unreadable sagasever written.
Everything Leary wrote from ExoPsychology onward suggested that his mind hadleft for space migration well in advance of his body. I finally heard himspeak at UVic in 1993. He did okay when narrating the script for his video,but when asked a direct question, he could hardly string two sentencestogether. (Much like our White House resident!) I asked him how globalpoverty figured into his futurestic utopia, and it was clear from his replythat he had never given it a moment's thought.
However, I suspect that by then he was in the early stages of Alzheimer's.He even joked about how senility is like an LSD trip, in that that your mindcan recap the whole process of evolution on your way to the fridge.
Yes, Leary was a great disappointment. But at least Ram Dass is stillkeeping the faith!
Did you see the article about how the FBI engineered the downfall of TheFarm, Stephen Gaskin's commune in Tennessee?
Linda said (May 2, 2005):
Regarding CIA and drugs.. besides defusing protest, drugs also funneled lots of money to black budget CIA doings. See the Gary Webb info.
And it seems to me now that the prevailing message is hate. Red against Blue, keep us fighting against the other political party so we don't see that both are doing the bidding of the ruling class and multinational corporations and the defense-industrial complex. We made the textbooks that trained the jihadists. We make the video games that provide ever more realtraining in killing for our youths. Any school shootings, or planes into towers just bolster the bottom line for the security and defense contracts and allow passage of ever more restrictive laws that reduce or eliminateour Constitutionally guaranteed rights. Corporate rights are always protected [witness judicial nominees], individual rights vanish. All this is good and necessary if you intend to take away the social supports and fear the little people might not approve [if they ever turned off their "reality TV" and looked at the off-screen reality].
Throughout, the question is "who does it serve", or "who benefits" and of course "follow the money".
Tom said (May 2, 2005):
Hello Dr.Makow; Concerning your article "The CIA Created Drug Culture," I found this to be very interesting and clearly reflective of the reams of evidence indicating the way that the CIA operates.
I find that smoking Marijuana after not having smoked it for at least four days gives me a greater level of intelligence, because I have an enhanced balance between reason and emotion. So for one thing, my memory and my imagination are superior.
However, to continue smoking it day after day, throws me right off balance, and I am then unable to avoid being more emotional than rational, and my greater abilities are gone. This ofcourse would not bother most people because they are smoking it for entertainment, the same reason that alcohol is consumed.
It is sad that for so many people, entertainment is found by the destruction of one's greater and more refined sensitivities. So when I see that I have lost my emotional balance from smoking Marijuana, I stay away from it for four days, and then just have one or two puffs, and that's it for the day.
I have found that the emotions released by this method are decidedly far more spiritual than the regular daily emotions which I would experience without it.
Eric said (May 2, 2005):
Henry,I really enjoy reading your articles. I started in August 2002 to really look at 9-11 for the scam it really was. I had heard that 33% of Germans thought 9-11 was an inside job. I knew that their had to be reason that they all had this same idea. So I decided to investigate these allegaions and my world view changed forever. Thanks for the great articles, although I do not always agree with you 100% I do like to get your perspective on all things related to the NWO. I had the pleasure of watching a debate between G Gordon Liddy and Timothy leary in 1990 at a Massachusetts University. It was enjoyable but not very informative. Liddy came off much better than Leary because Leary could not really follow a thought to completion, he was all over the place. What made me laugh even more was the fact that these two supposed enemies were business partners and travelled around the country together and put on these rehearsed debates. That alone indicates to me that Leary was in the US governemnt camp from the begining. Heck he probably did not even think he was in the government camp but he was just happy to have a traveling partner that would help him to earn decent paychecks for being a spaceshot.
Tom said (May 2, 2005):
You poor guys from the 60s .... I grew up watching you guys as a kid get beaten up by cops in those 60s protests and learned to work withinthe system but to be cynical of it and very wary of it. No idealism, just pragmatism. And so, many thanks to you guys for running thegauntlet for me and springing all the traps safely ahead of me. By the time I was old enough to protest, I knew it was better to subvert from within. You often eventually get what you want, and you get paid allalong for getting it. No jail cell. No legal fees. No missed work.
Win from within.
Jason said (May 2, 2005):
Jim Keith wrote the book Mass Control: Engineering Human Conciousness. In it there is an interview with Timothy Leary that he was connected with the CIA. He was in his words " A witting accomplice." I suggest the book if you have not already read it. His connection with them is pretty clear cut.
Carlos said (May 2, 2005):
think Timothy Leary was performing a crucial organic psychosociological role in advocating a qualitative leap in consciousness. If I buy a motor car is it to be supposed I apply to the nearest general hospital to have my legs amputated? If I sell the car and the buyer stages a bank robbery thereafter am I a facilitator, accomplice? The legacy of the psychic impact of Puritanism is rampant. The heinous, torturous antics of the RC church was bad enough. Other than the Inquisition there was the first Black Death as a result of exterminating cats as agents of the Devil, resulting in rats rampant. Let us remember the rat in democracy.Unfortunately T Leary expired prematurely from prostate cancer. Not nipped in the bud. I suggest the pursuit of the industrial-military complex involvement in proliferating ease of availability of LSD is bootless and fruitless. It is, in the final analysis, squandering invaluable mental resources on subjective trivia. That is one of the reasons so many such sites are allowed to stay in operation. Simply because they promote dissipation on welters of information, some, indeed much of which is fact but which accomplishes in terms of rational objective change in the qualitative nature of the social institutions within which Mankind has its being, negligible change. That, in the final analysis, is it.
Ridge said (May 2, 2005):
just read your article on your meeting with Tim Leary.
Yes, it was sad his infatuation with the cyber godhead. I understand from mutual friends though that later he regretted his endorsement of computers ~ that the technology is ultimately vacuous and a horrible means of control.
I met him briefly once after a disappointing public speech to college students: I expected more but he did say 'Tune in. Turn On, and Take over' Abandoning constructive activity was never really part of the psychedelic philosophy whether ersatz or genuine, nor however ad hoc it was, at least as far as I understood it.
The internet is abuzz with rumours of the Tavistock Institute and the Beatles, mind control and the CIA. Taking it at face value, if 'they' brought us LSD and the Beatles I can only conclude they love us. On the other hand if 'they' brought us the Rolling Stones and crystal meth I am sure they hate us. With all the coke and heroin the CIA traffics it is clear they mean us ill.
Jack said (May 2, 2005):
Just read your article on Rense, thanks! It hit a cord with me. Remember LSD was the drug of choice for the 1st Marine Division, pure Sandoz, in Vietnam. The weathermen got Leary out of the US and he ratten them out. CIA very openly admits that they engineered crack cocain. Sometimes I wonder if anything is as it seems. Thanks for your voice . . .jack
Joe said (May 2, 2005):
From 1996 (maybe before?) till 1999 or 2000 florida was flooded with extremely high quality extacy. Most of the high-level distributors of this were jews or israeilis, coincidentally. It was extremely popular, kids who were not typically hard drug users (pot smokers, drinkers) were doing it. Cops were not really on to it, the law was lax and they didn�t check for it. A drug sniffing dog looked for marijuana, heroin, or cocaine. I don�t remember ever hearing someone being convicted of an x offense during this time.
Then suddenly there is a federal law which is 3rd degree felony (the worst) for handling x, and the quality was horrible, and it was impossible to find. The chemical is pure serotonin, it�s like eating 10000 prozac pills at once. I never had a bad experience but many users crash the next day � not physically like with many drugs, but psychologically. They are so depressed.
I have a theory that this was all a way to promote pharmaceutical legal drugs like prozac and Zoloft, sure it is more complicated than that, but definitely this is an easy way to get a generation hooked on your product. There is little difference between x and prozac except prozac is subtle, less strong, legal, and MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE.
The rave culture was not like the flower power culture, comparatively we were quite pathetic, and I think not many noticed that at every rave party there was always some much older male (40�s or 50�s) surrounded by a group of high on x kids listening to him rant about the government.
My questions are: who controls the pharmaceutical companies, and how could they be connected? How were these distributors able to import virtually limitless supplies of an illegal substance and then suddenly STOP? What long term side effects are there for these kids? Etc. etc.
Christine said (May 1, 2005):
Years ago, I heard a tape by Ralph de Toledano, who was an agent for the OSS, the World War II-era precurser of the CIA. He said that during his tenure, half of them were Communists and they had a few Nazis in there, too. You can only imagine what it's like NOW.Joseph Douglass wrote excellent exposes of Communist efforts to use drugs to corrupt and weaken society in his works Red Cocaine and Betrayed. He said that the Reds regard drugs as a form of chemical warfare on the West. Additionally, the Chinese shoved drugs on their own people to soften them up before the Communist revolution there. Seems to be working here, too, doesn't it?
Rich said (May 1, 2005):
hi henry, i was wondering what your opinion is on walmart and predatorial capitalism in general? i am a former walmart shopper who was obsessed with driving across town to get the " lowest prices". meanwhile the small busineses in my neighborhood are slowly going under! from now on my money goes to small business! please protest and boycott walmart! death to the new world order!! rich
******Tinker, Tailor, Stoner, Spy: Was Timothy Leary a CIA Agent?by Mark Riebling
Timothy Leary, the CIA, and LSD: A Narrative Chronology. Touches on Angleton, JFK, and the mysterious unsolved murder of Mary Meyer.
EXT. THE WHITE HOUSE -- SUNSET -- (JULY 1962)
Summer-bachelor Jack Kennedy stands on the Harry Truman balcony overlooking the rose-garden fountain, a soothing sight before him: prisms of lighted water shooting into darkness, the white spike of the Washington Monument, auto headlights flickering along Executive Avenue. He begins to feel a deep-seated goodness within, centered between his chest and throat. From the bedroom behind him, through white chiffon curtains in open french doors, float the chords of a Sinatra song -- "All I Need is the Girl." With strange clarity, JFK can suddenly make out every note...
Behind the curtains moves the shadow of a tall woman who is not his wife. She is deeply connected to CIA, and has just dispensed to the President of the United States a dose of LSD. In the next few hours she will be "brainwashing" him, and she will be doing so on the directions of a Harvard psychologist, Dr. Timothy Leary, whose colleagues are all taking CIA money, and who has himself designed a personality test used by CIA....
This, or something very much like this, actually happened. To understand how and why it happened requires cruising back a few years, digging through government documents, reading between the lines of Leary's autobiography, Flashbacks. It's a trip through the secret maze of the American pyschedelic underground, a journey that is its own destination, a mystery that must be solved by the reader's own detective work. What follows are the undisputed facts, the clues.
September 1942: The Office of Strategic Services (OSS), wartime precursor to CIA, begins searching for a drug that will force subjects of interrogation, such as captured Nazi U-boat crews, to reveal secrets. As project director Dr. Stanley Lovell will recall, the idea of a "truth drug" is "considered fantastic by the realists, unethical by the moralists, and downright ludicrous by the physicians." But according to OSS records, Lovell goes ahead and tests "mescaline, various barbiturates, scopolamine, benzedrine, cannabis indica (marijuana), etc." The best results are obtained with the marijuana: "A few minutes after administration, the subject gradually becomes relaxed, and experiences a sensation of well-being... thoughts flow with considerable freedom... conversation becomes animated and accelerated. Inhibitions fall away.... [the drug] makes manifest any strong characteristics of the individual.... Whatever the individual is trying to withhold will be forced to the top of his subconscious mind." To "administer" the pot without a subject's knowing it, OSS scientists dissolve marijuana leaves in acetone, then heat the result into a clear, odorless, viscous liquid -- tetrahydrocannabional acetate -- which can be "injected into any type of food, such as mashed potatoes, butter, salad dressing, or in such things as candy."
May 25, 1943: THC acetate is tested on an unknowing subject, Lower East Side mafioso August "Little Augie" Del Gaizo, who has been helping OSS smuggle agents into Nazi-held Sicily. Little Augie is considered an ideal subject because he has secrets he is "most anxious to conceal, the revelation of which might result in his imprisonment"; in fact, he prides himself on having never informed, and has even "been instrumental in killing some persons who have been informants." But after smoking two proffered cigarettes, laced with a total of .14 grams THC, Little Augie becomes "obviously 'high' and extremely garrulous" as he sits in the apartment of OSS officer George White, a former Treasury agent who had arrested him several times in the past. When White turns the subject to law enforcement, Little Augie "with no further encouragement" divulges the identities of city officials on the take; details of the criminal empire run by Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel; "and other information that subject would not give under ordinary circumstances. There is no question but that administration of the drug was responsible for loosening the subject's tongue." Henceforth, OSS refers to the THC acetate simply as "TD," a cryptonym for "Truth Drug."
1944: OSS uses "TD" in secret operations. Lovell reports that "Certain disclosures of the greatest value are in the possession of our military intelligence as a result of this treatment, which it is felt would otherwise not be known. Properly employed... it may be a national asset of incalculable importance." But OSS officials, fearing political backlash if use of the drug is revealed, shut the program down.
April-May 1945: Jack Kennedy, before entering politics, is working as a reporter for the Hearst newspaper chain. While covering the charter conference of the United Nations at San Francisco, he frequently sees an old flame from Choate, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and her husband, Cord Meyer, Jr., who is an assistant to the American delegation. A young Yale graduate and award-winning literary talent, Cord Meyer was badly wounded by a Japanese hand-grenade on Guam and has a glass eye; when he smokes cigarettes, the smoke slowly drifts up and into his open, nerveless, unblinking left eye, curling around the glass orb. The sight so disconcerts JFK that he finds himself rubbing his own left eye in a kind of sympathetic agony.
September 1946: Timothy Leary begins doctoral studies in psychology at Berkeley.
1947: Dr. Werner Stoll, a researcher at Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland, publishes the first scientific articles on LSD-25, an extract of rye mold, noting that it accelerates thinking and blunts suspicion in schizophrenics.
1947-48: As a graduate student in psychology, Leary attends the first two national conventions of the American Veterans Committee (AVC), a left-wing veterans group, as a California state delegation leader. At the second AVC convention, in Milwaukee, Leary meets Cord Meyer, who is then spearheading an anti-communist purge of the organization. Meyer lectures Leary about communism, and the importance of liberal resistance to it. Leary will later credit Meyer with "helping me understand my political-cultural role more clearly."
Late 1950: Cord Meyer joins CIA and begins working in its International Relations Division, of which he is soon put in charge. The express purpose of this division is to covertly finance, infiltrate, and encourage noncommunist liberal-left movements and institutions, such as labor unions, creative-academic societies, and student groups.
April 13, 1953: CIA launches Operation MK/ULTRA, a major drug and mind-control program. Although THC acetate is studied as an interrogation aid, CIA is more concerned about reports of communist brainwashing experiments on American POWs in Korea, and focuses on stronger, hallucinogenic drugs. "Aside from the offensive potential, the development of a comprehensive capability in this field... gives a thorough knowledge of the enemy's theoretical potential, thus enabling us to defend ourselves against a foe who might not be as restrained in the use of these techniques as we are." Some CIA employees, including perhaps Meyer, volunteer for experiments. Through a front organization called The Society For Human Ecology, CIA begins sponsoring $25 million in research into the effects of mind-altering drugs -- LSD, psilocybin and mescaline -- at Harvard University and at several cites in the San Francisco-Oakland area, including Stanford and Berkeley.
1954-59: Leary is director of clinical research and psychology at the Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Oakland. He devises a personality test, "The Leary," which is used by CIA to test prospective employees. He has also become a close friend to Frank Barron, a graduate school classmate who has ben working for CIA since at least 1953. Barron works at the Berkeley Institute for Personality Assessment and Research, which Leary will later acknowledge is "funded and staffed by OSS-CIA psychologists."
1960-61: Barron founds the Harvard Pyschedelic Drug Research Center. Leary follows Barron to Harvard and becomes a lecturer in psychology. After Barron administers to him some CIA-supplied psilocybin and LSD, Leary begins tripping regularly. He also studies the effects of psycheledics on others in controlled experiments. He later admits to knowing, at the time, that "some powerful people in Washington have sponsored all this drug research." In addition to Barron, Leary's associates and assistants during this period include former OSS chief pyschologist Harry Murray, who had montiored military experiments on Truth-Drug brainwashing and interrogation, and Martin Orne, a researcher receiving funds from CIA. Leary also consults British philosopher Aldous Huxley, author of the psychedelic manifesto, The Doors of Perception (from which Jim Morrision would later take name his band). Huxley, who is at Harvard on a visiting professorship, urges Leary to form a secret order of LSD-Illuminati, to launch and lead a psychedelic conspiracy to brainwash influential people for the purposes human betterment. "That's how everything of culture and beauty and philosophic freedom has been passed on," Huxley tells him. "Initiate artists, writers, poets, jazz musicians, elegant courtesans. And they'll educate the intelligent rich."
Spring 1962: Mary Meyer, recently divorced from her CIA husband, visits Leary at Harvard. She leans against the door post, hip tilted provocatively, studying him with green-blue eyes. Leary will later recall here as "amused, arrogant, aristocratic." She tells him she has a "friend who's a very important man, who wants to try LSD for himself." At the time, though Leary does not know this, Mary is having an affair with President Kennedy, which will include more than thirty visits to the White House (later confirmed by Presidential Secretary Kenneth O'Donnell). Mary tells Leary that the government is studying ways to "use drugs for warfare, for espionage, for brainwashing." She asks him to "teach us how to run [LSD] sessions, use drugs to do good." Leary agrees. He provides her with drug samples and "session" reports, and is in touch with her every few weeks, advising her on how to be a "brainwasher." She swears him to secrecy.
Late July, 1962: While the First Lady is away at the Kennedy summer home in Hyannisport, Mary calls on JFK at the White House. She records the visit in her diary, and later describes it to her close friend James Truitt of the Washington Post. She and the President of the United States smoke two joints of marijuana, reportedly prompting the leader of the free world to say, "This isn't at all like cocaine. I'll get you some of that." Once he is suitably "loosened up" -- Leary has emphasized the need to put subjects in a "benevolent state" before turning them on -- Mary dispenses to Jack a dose of LSD. As it starts to "kick in," he goes out and stands on Harry Truman's balcony overlooking the rose-garden fountain, a soothing sight before him....
Fall 1962: Leary meets Mary Meyer in a room at Boston's Ritz Hotel. She alludes to her "hush-hush love affair," and tells him that "top people in Washington are turning on." According to Leary's recounting, she also says: "Do you remember the American Veterans Committee, that liberal veterans group you belonged to after the war? The CIA started that." She explains to him that "CIA creates the radical journals and student organizations and runs them with deep-cover agents.... dissident organizations in academia are also controlled." When Leary asks her how she knows all this, she explains: "I knocked you with those facts to get your attention. It's a standard intelligence trick." She confides that CIA has not only been running left-wing groups as fronts, but has been sponsoring more psychedelic research than he will ever know. "You are doing exploratory work the CIA tried to do in the 1950s. So they're more than happy to have you do their research for them. Since drug research is of vital importance to the intelligence agencies of this country, you'll be allowed to go on with your experiments as long as you keep it quiet," she advises.Spring 1963: Leary again meets Mary Meyer at the Ritz. She says that her love affair has been exposed, although no publicity has resulted. "I don't trust the phones or the mail," she warns. He is to make no contact with her until further notice. May-June 1963: Mary warns Leary, who is conducting a psychedelic summer camp in Mexico, that their "sessions" are "in jeopardy" because he is attracting "too much publicity."
September 1963: Mary drives up to see Leary, now conducting experiments at a large private estate in Milbrook, New York. She gives him, for his experiments, a bottle of "the best LSD in the world," from the National Institute of Mental Health. She takes countersurveillance precautions, and says: "We had eight intelligent women turning on the most powerful men in Washington. And then we got found out.... I made a mistake in recruitment. A wife snitched on us... I've gotten mixed up in some dangerous matters."
December 1, 1963: Around this time Mary calls Leary, who had been "expecting a phone call from [her]... ever since the Kennedy assassination." According to Leary, she says: "They couldn't control him anymore. He was changing too fast. They've covered everything up.... I'm afraid. Be careful."
October 12, 1964: Mary Meyer is shot to death, execution-style, at 12:45 p.m., on a park towpath by the Georgetown Canal in Washington, D.C. Her body is identified by Ben Bradlee, Cord Meyer's brother-in-law, editor of the Washington Post. CIA counterintelligence chief James Angleton confiscates and later burns the diary in which Mary has recorded her liaisons with JFK. A black laborer with a wife and five children, 26-year old Raymond Crump, Jr., is arrested on suspicion of murdering Mary in a robbery attempt, but she had not been carrying a purse, and there is no credible eyewitness testimony placing Crump at the site.
July 20, 1965. A jury deliberates only eleven hours before acquitting Crump in Mary Meyer's death. The murder weapon is never found; the crime is never solved.
1965-66: FBI agents openly surveil Leary's drug experimentation compound at Milbrook. Leary, intimidated, considers relocating to Mexico. For jurisdictional reasons, the Bureau turns the case over to former FBI agent G. Gordon Liddy, now a county prosecutor, who later says: "The word was that at Leary's lair the panties were dropping as fast as the acid." Liddy leads a raid by sheriffs in March 1966. Leary is charged with possession of illegal drugs, but the case is dropped on technicalities after the Supreme Court's Miranda decision in June. This series of events imprints on Leary a deep distrust of the FBI and of "cops" generally.
January-August 1967: Ramparts, a radical magazine, exposes CIA sponsorship of the National Student Association, a Cord Meyer project. Meyer's best friend, James Angleton, assigns CIA officer Richard Ober to begin a leak investigation into the Ramparts story. Ober's probe is soon expanded into a spy program on the countercultural and student-protests movements, code named CHAOS.]
September 1967: Just as CHAOS is launched, Leary moves from the isolation of upstate New York, where he has been philosophically contemplating the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and becomes a gregarious, media-hounding fixture of the Southern California countercultural scene, telling young people to "Tune in, Turn On, Drop Out."]1968: While other New-Left leaders preach violent overthrow of the U.S. Government and creation of a Marxist dictatorship, Leary urges instead a nonviolent, drug-oriented "hippie capitalism," an artsy-craftsy, decentralized, libertarian sort of entrepeneurship that will also soon find its expression in the culture of the Grateful Dead. While Leary's position does constitute a rejection of the corporate world, it also embraces private property and the profit motive. Because of this, the Marxist Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) denounces Leary and his noncommunist followers for "limiting the revolution." The Progressive Labor Party (PLP), a Maoist "Old Left" group, goes so far as to claim that Leary is a CIA agent. But the PLP is accusing everyone it disgarees with of being CIA.
1969: Leary critics will eventually point with suspicion to his close connections during this time to an international LSD-smuggling cartel, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, which is rumored to be a CIA front. The Brotherhood is controlled by Ronald Stark, whom an Italian High Court will later conclude has been a CIA agent since 1960, and the Brotherhood's funds are channeled through Castle Bank in the Bahamas, a known CIA "proprietary." For two years Leary lives at Brotherhood headquarters, located on a ranch in Laguna Beach. During this period, the Brotherhood corners the U.S. market on LSD and begins distributing only one variety of the drug, "Orange Sunshine." Stark says he plans to distribute the product to CIA-backed guerillas fighting Chinese occupation; he reportedly knows a high-placed Tibetan close to the Dalai Lama, and wants to provide enough LSD to dose all Chinese troops in Tibet. In the U.S., meanwhile, Stark provides enough Orange Sunshine to dose the hippie culture and radical left many times over. This is the "bad acid" on which Charles Manson's followers murder Sharon Tate, and on which Hell's Angels stab to death a black man during a concert by the Rolling Stones. The Summer of Love has been supplanted by a Season of Hate. Because of this, many countercultural insiders -- including William S. Burroughs, White Panther leader John Sinclair, and Merry Prankster Ken Kesey -- will eventually entertain the theory that Stark, Leary, and Orange Sunshine are all part of CIA plot to discredit and neutralize the radical left. According to former radicals Martin Lee and Bruce Shalin, widespread use of Orange Sunshine "contributed significantly to the demise of the New Left, for it heightened the metabolism of the body politic and accelerated all the changes going on... In its hyped-up condition, the New Left burned itself out."
Fall 1969: According to declassified government documents, CIA now has a CHAOS agent with "particularly good entree into the highest levels of the domestic radical community," who is providing "extremely personal data." It is decided to send this agent to infiltrate the overseas headquarters of the Black Panthers, but this will not be accomplished for many months. In the meantime, CIA will debrief him for purely domestic information about his associates, in part because he does not "wish to deal with the FBI." This description perfectly fits Leary. No one has better "entree" than Leary, who has recently been helicoptered in as the guest of honor at Woodstock. Few have more "personal" data on radical figures than the man who is personally turning them on. The overall pattern of Leary's career, his continual links to people who are linked to CIA, is certainly suggestive. So is the fact that, like CIA's "star agent," his willingness to mix with CIA-types does not extend to the FBI, which Leary has disliked since Liddy's raid on Milbrook.
1970: In February, Leary is convicted of marijuana possession and jailed at Lompoc, California. This seems clear evidence that he is not, after all, a CIA asset or government informant. Yet CIA has at times employed agents or infomrants who are later prosecuted for activities unrelated to their government work. For instance, Johnny Rosselli, and other Mafiosi hired by CIA to assassinate Fidel Castro in the early 1960s, are eventually taken down by the FBI, though over CIA protest. If then, Leary is working for CIA, this may complicate, but ultimately not preclude, his prosecution for other "crimes." In any case, Leary is not exactly chained to the wall in a dark cellar. Lompoc is a minimum-security, white-collar "joint," the plushest in the United States, and Leary is still able to get acid. His movements, moreoover, soon keep him in a position to provide valuable intelligence to the U.S. government.
September 12, 1970: Leary is "liberated" from Lompoc by members of the Weather Underground, an SDS offshoot named after Bob Dylan's lyric, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." The Weathermen have launched a Marxist guerilla struggle in the United States, and Leary pledges his solidarity in a a "POW Statement." It reads, in part: "Listen Americans! Your government is an instrument of totally lethal evil. Resist actively, sabotage, jam the computer... hijack planes, trash every lethal machine in the land.... To shoot a genocidal robot policeman in the defense of life is a sacred act.... Total war is upon us.... WARNING: I am armed and should be considered dangerous!" This especially provocative and hyperbolic communique has two main effects. It re-establishes Leary's bona fides in the radical underground, and it turns American opinion farther against the New Left.
October 1970: According to Angleton's deputy, Scott Miler, CIA is at this time trying quite hard to the answer the question: "What was Eldridge Cleaver doing in Algeria?" As it happens, Leary now flies to Algiers and joins up with Black Panther Party leader Eldridge Cleaver. Leary's travels, and the operation to spring him from jail, have been financed by Stark and the Brotherhood.
October 21, 1970: A CIA memo records that its prized CHAOS source -- Leary? -- is now overseas.
November 1970 -- May 1971: Cleaver grows suspicious of Leary, searches Leary's apartment "for documents proving that we [Leary and his wife] were CIA operatives," and imprisons him in the Panthers' Algerian compound as "white slaves."
February 12, 1971: A CIA document reports that "Eldridge Cleaver and his Algiers contingent have apparently become disenchanted with the antics of Tim Leary.... Electing to call their action protective custody, Cleaver and company, on their own authority, have put Tim and Rosemary under house arrest." Since Leary's condition is not publicly known, this report can only have come from penetration of Cleaver's entourage. Unless CIA has recruited black militants -- a sociologically unlikely scenario -- the information has most probably come from electronic surveillance on the Panther compound, or from secret communications by Leary or his wife. May 1971: Leary and his wife escape to Switzerland with the assistance, according to Leary, of an "Algerian bureaucrat named Ali," who "made no bones about his connection to the CIA." "Are you sure you can trust him?" Leary's wife asks him. "He's liberal CIA," Leary says, "and that's the best mafia you can deal with in the twentieth century." The escape operation is financed by the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, though checks drawn on CIA's Castle Bank.
June 18-19, 1972: G. Gordon Liddy, now working for Republicans' Campaign to Re-Elect the President (CREEP), oversees a break-in of the Democratic National Committe at Watergate. The burglars are caught and Liddy is arrested. The next day, top CIA officials meet secretly to discuss the burglary, in which Liddy has used some ex-CIA agents working for ex-CIA officer Howard Hunt at the White House. CIA director Richard Helms orders his deputies to carry out a "damage control" strategy, to deflect suspicion away from the Agency and toward the President's Men. This is exactly what is accomplished by Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward's key "intelligence community" source in the case, Deep Throat, who begins providing tips to Woodward this very day, a few hours after CIA's damage control meeting. The coincidence of timing suggests that Throat is someone who is at the CIA conference and who has close connections to the Post. Cord Meyer, now #2 man in CIA's Operations Directorate, is at the meeting, and is still close with his in-law Bradlee, the Post's editor. He also fits perfectly the many clues Woodward later drops as to Throat's identity, including chain smoking, a knowledge of literature (Meyer was an award-winning fiction writer before joining CIA) and a battle-scarred face (Meyer had a glass eye).
1973-78: After two years of "jet-setting" in Switzerland, Leary returns to the U.S. By his own account, this has occured through the machinations of CIA; Leary says they have "kidnapped" him. He is convicted on drug charges, and begins doing hard time at Folsom Prison. This seems clear evidence, again, that suspicions about his ultimate loyalties are merely left-wing paranoia. But after a few months out of public view, Leary comes into the open as a government informant. Under the code-name CHARLIE THRUSH, he turns State's evidence against the Weather Underground. Freed from prison, he is taken into custody for fear that radical revolutionaries have marked him for execution. His former colleagues in the movement form a group calling itself People Investigating Leary's Lies (PILL). Abbie Hoffmann declares that "Timothy Leary is a name worse than Benedict Arnold." Allen Ginsburg says that Leary is "like Zabbath Zvi, false Messiah, accepted by millions of Jews centuries ago."
1978-93: After his last offical contacts with security agencies, in 1978, Leary distances himself both from the government and the "movement" that no longer really exists. Out in the cold, he becomes a sophist in the true sense, a wise-man for rent or hire. Early in the Reagan years he "debates" G. Gordon Liddy, the Watergate burglar who once busted him at Milbrook, on a nationwide tour. Former sixties radicals disgustedly describe the event as "bogus," and say it is proof that Leary is "in with the fuzz." At the very least, Leary seems to the Left a lightweight, a one-man Madison Avenue scam, a functional part of the Establishment he once swore to subvert. He hangs out at Helena's, the trendy restaurant in which Jack Nicholson has an interest, and he occasionally philosophizes for a fee at Carlos and Charlie's, a local restaurant that also headlines Joan Rivers. He defends his New Style by saying, quite earnestly: "If Aristotle were alive today, he'd have a talk show." He also publishes Flashbacks: An Autobiography, recounting obliquely his dealings with Cord and Mary Meyer and his work as a government informant, touching only in passing on CIA's funding of LSD resarch. He designs computer software and hails the coming of the Information Superhighway. Though lacking family wealth, or any gainful employment since 1962, he has nevertheless managed to become a rich man. He lives in Benedict Canyon, only a doors away from the house where Manson's followers, and Orange Sunshine, did their worst. From his yard he can survey the whole City of Light, and he likes the symbolism of that.
April 14, 1994:
Leary, aged 73, visits Gainesville, Florida. He has come to present a multi-media lecture demonstration of electronic mind expansion, "How To Operate Your Brain." Three thousand people sit down to see him. He wears white Adidas, black polyester pants, and a psychedelic vest with a '93 Lollapalooza Guest Pass stuck on it.
In his warm-up remarks, he describes looking out the window of his plane on the way in, and comments that "the clouds in Gainseville have been constructed by George Lucas." He complains that it's hard to buy marijuana anymore, and says that pot causes short-term memory loss, but also "long-term memory gain." He says he will be trying to "brainwash" the audience, "not to resist or fight authority, but to engage it in a dialogue to force progressive change."
The lights go down, and some electronic funk comes on. Leary serves as narrator-guide while colors and words flicker and flash on a screen. He quotes Socrates and Ralph Waldo Emerson. People should think for themselves and question authority. Also, "Divinity resides within."
After the lights come on, Leary opens the gig up for questions -- but only after warning us, "You're not supposed to believe anything I say." People start queueing up for questions at two microphones, and I'm about fifth in line at one of them. I'm planning to ask him about his rumored connections to CIA. Most of the "questions" before mine are pretty uncool. A lot are from NORML activists: "If you wanna come over to my place afterward..." Then some crazy-eyed man says, "The state of Florida is shaped like a gun, and Gainesveille is the trigger -- look at a map. Anyway, I'm a schizophrenic and I think I'm Jesus Christ. So Dr. Leary, am I Jesus Christ?" He is serious. Leary dispenses with him by saying, "Just don't get yourself crucified."
Finally it's my turn. I step up to the mike. Leary looks at me, looks at his watch. "Sorry, no more time for questions." A fist-faced steroidal security guard gets between me and the mike. Leary disappears behind the curtain.
As fans mill about afterward, I hear there's some kind of VIP reception for Leary in a side-room, guarded by more fat-necks in blue blazers. I scam my way in: My girlfriend is a professor at the Univeristy, and she talks to some guy who talks to some guy. The side room is one of those harshly lit holding tanks, like where a record company's PR girl puts you when she doesn't know you're "with the band." People nibble nervously on peanut-butter cookies until Leary enters. There's an initial crush forward, but then everyone sort of hestitates, afraid to get too close to "the man," unsure what to say. He sits down at the far side of the room. What the hell, I go for mine -- I sit down right next to him.
He inscribes to me a copy of FLASHBACKS. I notice that his hands are weird in the way old people's hands are, with these corroding purple spots. He seems tired and distracted, so I try the standard espionage trick: Knock him with some facts to get his attention. "You know, my stepmother used to work for Cord Meyer." Which is true; she was for some years a secretary at CIA.
Leary's reaction is physical: He jerks, as if jolted by some alternating current for which he has no adapter. His eyes are bright with memory. "Cord Meyer was a pretty intense guy," he says, smiling. I ask a couple other questions, tacking around. Then I put it to Leary like this. "You say in your book that a lot of the LSD experiments at Harvard and Berkeley were, like, paid for by CIA. So I was wondering -- I mean, what were your connections with the Agency?"
Suddenly he seems tight and defensive, finds the adapter and plugs it in. "They never gave me a dime," he says.
I look into his eyes, the way you do when you try to tell if someone is lying. I don't see deception, exactly; only pain. He doesn't say anything to me after this, so I awkwardly say goodbye and leave.
Driving home, in the dark, I feel some journalistic guilt for having bothered this good-hearted sage, whose views on life are mostly right. Maybe he has actually told me the truth. The pain in his eyes was probably injured innocence, the kind I'd feel if I'd done a great life's work and some punk kid asked me, at the end of it, if I'd been funded all along by the KGB. On the other hand, if he did collaborate with CIA, he'd hardly be at liberty to say so, would he? Might he not also feel just a bit guilty; thus the pain? And if the Agency never gave him any money, how did they get the rights to use the personality test that bears his name?
I come to a red light. Flashing in my mind is a subliminal message from Leary's "brainwashing" session: "Think for yourself -- question authority." And then I remember his warning to us, before the question & answer period: "You're not supposed to believe anything I say."
INT. CYBERSPACE -- GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA -- DAY
An impossible transition is required here. Questions hang, uanswered, like bats on the ceiling of a cave. Was Timothy Leary CIA, or what? What was Mary Meyer trying to "brainwash" JFK to do, and why did both die such untimely, mysterious deaths? Was Orange Sunshine really part of a government-orchstrated plot? Is Leary's Online Tip a new way to free the mind, or merely the final phase of his one-man plot to hijack the history of the world?
Damn if I know. The secret world of intelligence and espionage has been called a "wilderness of mirrors," and rightly. You can spend a lot of time saying, "On the one hand.... On the other hand," especially if you are on Truth Drug....
Hip 60s Filmmaker Threatens Illuminati Investigator
By Mel Cameron
‘RADIC AL filmmaker’ Robert Carl Cohen is freaking out over Dave McGowan’s exposure of the Hollywood-hyped hippie revolution of the 60s.
‘RADIC AL filmmaker’ Robert Carl Cohen is freaking out over Dave McGowan’s exposure of the Hollywood-hyped hippie revolution of the 60s.
Cohen, a social psychologist who went to China, Cuba and East Germany in the late 50s and early 60s to film the effects of the communist revolutions, has been sending McGowan nasty emails threatening lawsuits.
McGowan, on his website Centre for an Informed America, isn’t saying what Cohen’s specific problem is, but Dave makes it clear he’s not taking the threats seriously.
Cohen appears to be upset by McGowan’s series The Strange But Mostly True Story of Laurel Canyon and the Rise of the Hippie Generation (Dave wins Long Title of the Year Award). Now why would that be so? The series exposes the amazing links between US military intelligence, super wealthy families and all those ‘anti-establishment’ hippy rock heroes of the Canyon.
Like many of the characters in McGowan’s investigation, Cohen has former military intelligence connections but that’s purely coincidental. Perhaps he’s upset because so many of the characters of his 1967 documentary called Mondo Hollywood, which he filmed and produced, are the same key players identified in the strange and frequently fatal activities of the Laurel Canyon set?
You can view the trailer and excerpts of Mondo Hollywood on YouTube. It’s a grab-bag of go-go girls, celebrities, homosexuals, drug users and various ‘freaks’ doing hip and naughty things – like wow, way out and groovy man, join the revolution, kill the pigs, peace, love and LSD.
McGowan hasn’t stated it explicitly, but his series strongly implies that the hippie thing was almost entirely a social experiment run from above. Given the revelations by the Church Committee in 1975 about the large-scale experiment with LSD on the minds of young westerners through Project MK Ultra, the Laurel Canyon revelations fall right in line.
Cohen, in a 2006 interview with Don Wrege of Radical Films (posted on YouTube), insists Mondo Hollywood was just film of diverse people who approached him to be filmed ‘saying what they wanted to say and doing what they wanted to be filmed doing’. Groovy, it’s like a doing-your- own-thing-in-your-own-time kinda movie. It’s all very hip, groovy, cool and spaced out.
Speaking of drugs and the like, the movie, coincidentally, also features a roomful of folk at Topanga Canyon – Steve McQueen among them – being lectured by one Dr Richard Alpert about LSD.
Cohen admits to asking Alpert, an associate of Dr Timothy Leary in the MK Ultra project, if he would like to be in the movie, unlike all the other characters who ‘approached him’.
He explains that he researched the acid scene as part of the movie . “I observed that certain elements in the US government primarily were using drugs to try to compromise the protest movement,’’ says Cohen, adding that the acid culture was ‘an inherent part of the Hollywood scene’ anyway.
Cohen’s intriguing filmmaking career starts with him as a ‘US soldier’ stationed just outside of Paris at the end of WWII with the NATO supreme headquarters, which he notes, was driven out of France by Charles de Gaulle. (What did Mr de Gaulle know about NATO?) This smart young soldier Cohen also attended the Sorbonne in Paris where he would gain his doctorate in social psychology. During the 50s he would also gain a Master of Cinematography from the UCLA.
He says he was ‘separated’ from the military in 1956, then in 1957 attended the World Youth Festival in Moscow from where he was commissioned by the NBC to travel to China to film his first documentary Inside Red China. Fertile ground indeed for the social psychologist, although the film credits portray Cohen as ‘the first reporter inside China’.
The film, incidentally, is a propaganda-laced travelogue obviously filmed with full co-operation from the communist authorities. Cohen says not one frame of his film was censored. That’s hardly surprising as there was nothing to censor and his commentary, which contained only a few mildly critical comments about the Maoist regime, was no doubt added later.
Cohen visits the Great Wall reconstruction where happy workers ‘are paid more if they carry more bricks’, a children’s hospital which he dangerously admits is not typical of most other Chinese hospitals and the Peking Opera ‘where the crowd buys popsicles to eat during the performance’ in contrast to its performances in London and Paris ‘where people wear diamonds and furs’.
He also films a gathering of China’s scientific and political elite including Chinese Premier and Foreign Minister Chou En Lai and Tsien Shu Fen, a former rocket scientist from the California Institute of Technology who makes the apparently seamless transfer to director of Red China’s Institute of Mechanics. Curiously, the faces of other westerners clearly show up at the various gatherings. One even sips drinks with Chou.
A Wikipedia contributor makes the interesting observation: “The greatest period of collaboration between sociologists and psychologists was during the years immediately following World War II.” We can safely assume the reason for this was that WWII disrupted entire nations and fostered revolutions that put many people in a state of shock – fertile ground, of course, for the social engineers.
Fast forward to the revolutionary years of the mid to late sixties and 1968 in particular, when, Cohen relates, Mondo Hollywood was banned by the French Government ‘as a danger to mental health’ – a badge of honor for sure, for the ‘radical moviemaker’ of the era.
“So,” Cohen tells Wrege, “it seemed quite logical for me, as part of this continuum of filming in China, East Germany and Cuba … I was working my way back home, to my home in Hollywood and friends said to me, ‘you’ve made these documentaries in these various forbidden and non-forbidden communist countries, why don’t you make a documentary in Hollywood?”
Hollywood in the mid-60s, explains Cohen, was rather like Paris at the end of the 19th Century – ‘a magnet for creative people… not just for people who wanted to make film but for people to live in a Hollywood lifestyle’. Cohen, who was raised in LA, also says he came to understand that it was ‘the centre of illusion’ – a keen observation indeed, Mr Cohen.
Mondo Hollywood’s collection of weirdos, freaks and oddities, coincidentally, includes ‘Gypsy Boots’, a middle-aged natural foods advocate. Cohen just happened to meet Gypsy Boots who asks to be in the movie because ‘I’m freaky man’. Cohen then ‘discovers’ Gypsy Boots lived in a cave in Griffith Park with Eden Ahbez, the 1940s Hollywood mystic who wrote Nature Boy for Matt Monroe in 1948 and was reputed to be an inspiration for the hippie movement.
There’s no end to the strange coincidences that came Cohen’s way.
Then there’s a wealthy woman who practices yoga. Cohen tells Wrege that he ‘doesn’t put these things in the film, I just filmed what the people were doing’. He then confesses to practicing yoga himself 20 years earlier, in the late 40s, a young soldier connected with NATO and studying social psychology.
You’ve got to give it to Cohen, he’s some guy, decades ahead of his time. You might say the true mark of an illuminated human being.
And then there was the eccentric millionaire Louis Marvin III who lived in a strange house on the top of a hill near Malibu. Marvin, coincidentally, was another one of the audience listening to LSD guru Alpert’s lecture in Topanga Canyon the day Cohen was there filming.
Again, says Cohen, Marvin approaches him and says ‘why don’t you put me in your movie?’ There’s no doubt about these extroverted Hollywood types.
Cohen’s list of stars goes on to hairpiece expert Jay Sebring, later to become a victim of Charlie Manson’s gang. And let’s not forget singer Bobby Beausoleil, filmed briefly shooting a little arrow. This follower of Pan (the God of the Illuminati) later joined the Manson gang.
Then there’s Vito Paulekas and Carl O. Franzoni, of the ‘freak troupe’ who wandered Laurel Canyon and Sunset strip and were considered ‘the first hippies’ (apart from Eden Ahbez). McGowan cites author Barry Miles, in his book Hippie: “Calling themselves Freaks, they lived a semi-communal life and engaged in sex orgies and free-form dancing whenever they could.”
Let’s not forget Frank Zappa also, yet another Hollywood ‘personality’ to pop up in Mondo Hollywood among his band The Mothers, who coincidentally, were offered by a friend of Cohen to perform at a Cohen party. Hey, rock history in the making, but Cohen insists it’s all mere observation on his part.
“I grew up with Hollywood musicals,’’ says Cohen, “people dancing and singing in the streets and doing all kinds of stuff and I say it’s nice, it’s fun. It makes you feel good to watch it, you feel like you’re singing and dancing along with it and as it turned out the people I was filming on Mondo Hollywood, some of them had written music, some of them played music, they were involved with music…’’
As it turned out, says Cohen, there were 12 original numbers in Mondo Hollywood, songs like Marie Schwimmer’s The Great God Pan … I came down from Mt Olympus! Funny how that Pan guy keeps popping up.
I’ll leave it to Dave McGowan to reveal the finer details of this strange and mostly true story of one obscure Hollywood filmmaker and the rise of the hippie generation.