- June Eris of the Month 2019: Eris Brewery and Cider House
- Sex, Drugs, and Discordia
- May Eris of the Month 2019: Hello Sweetie Eris by Jacob Chipman
- April Eris of the Month 2019: Eris by A-gnosis
- How To Live Your Life by Jesse Sump, Ancient Abbreviated Calif. of California
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- The Raymond Broshears Files Part 00006: A FOIA Treasure Trove
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- PDF of the New, Improved Version of Goetia Discordia
- Imaginary Sources Creating Imaginary History
- The Raymond Broshears Files Part 00003: Flying Saucer Attack!
- January Eris of the Month 2019: Eris by IrenHorrors
- The Discordian Society Meets the Psychedelic Venus Church by Adam Gorightly and Mike Marinacci
- The Raymond Broshears Files Part 00002: Odd Sects and Wandering Bishops
- December Eris of the Month 2018: SMITE Eris
- November Eris of the Month 2018: Eris by GENZOMAN
- Addendum to “The Raymond Broshears Files Part 00001”
- Discordianism Meets Ufology Part 00004: Were Gray Barker and Jim Moseley Original Discordians?
- October Eris of the Month 2018: Spare Change Eris by Kerry Thornley
- September Eris of the Month 2018: Robot Eris by Noriyoshi Ohrai
- New Discordian Ebook by Brenton Clutterbuck: United We Fnord: More Discordian Stories from the UK and Ireland
- The Raymond Broshears Files Part 00001: Welcome to the Garrison Investigation Funhouse
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The following article previously appeared in a slightly (chemically altered) form in Psychedelic Press Issue 23.
The handful of veiled (or perhaps not-so-veiled) drug references in the Principia Discordia include the ritual of Blessed St. Gulik the Stoned (pages 00027 and 00040), an allusion to a Discordian pot smoking ritual. (St. Gulik is a cockroach.)
Page 00068 of Principia Discordia featured “Plant Your Seeds,” a covert campaign to plant marijuana seeds throughout the cities of America to turn on the squares. “Lick Here” on page 00023 encourages the reader to stick their tongue on the dot for a special dose of you know what!
Principia Discordia (4th edition) evolved out of what were known as Groovy Kits, manila envelopes packed full of groovy goodies that were circulated by Greg Hill to a snail mail network of popes and momes during the Discordian Society’s halcyon days. Although Discordians have never been big on rules, it was encouraged that—upon receipt of said Groovy Kit—the recipient partook in the Ritual of St. Gulik to suitably prepare their heads before diving into the Groovy Kit goods and creating something likewise groovy to add to the package and then pass it along to the next Discordian on the list. (Rules is rules.) And so, in time, these Groovy Kits grew like some weird fungi, spreading their spores via the U.S. Postal System through the collective brains of those who elected to play the game; an art project made up of a communal Discordian stew of collages, counterculture memes, conspiracy theories, word games, irreverent humor, all of which contributed to the evolution of Principia Discordia which, in turn, provided inspiration for Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea’s Illuminatus!
Robert Anton Wilson (RAW) provided some of the earliest reports of Discordian psychedelic experimentation in Cosmic Trigger I: Final Secret of the Illuminati. In 1963, RAW lived in “an old slave-cabin in the woods outside Yellow Springs, Ohio. With my wife, Arlen, and our four small children, I had rented the cabin from Antioch College for $30 per month and had an acre of cleared land to grow food on, 30 acres of woods to seek Mystery in…” It was there, with the aid of peyote, that RAW was able to tap into those ancient nature spirits, this at a time when you could still legally purchase peyote buttons via mail order.
“By mid-1963 [RAW] had logged 40 trips to inner space” and “frequently had the hallucination of telepathic communication with plants, both when flying on the wings of peyote and when [I] was straight… The strangest entity I contacted in those twenty-odd months of psychedelic explorations appeared one day after the end of a peyote trip, when I was weeding in the garden and a movement in the adjoining cornfield caught my eye. I looked over that way and saw a man with warty green skin and pointy ears, dancing.” RAW “watched for nearly a minute, entranced, and then Greenskin faded away ‘just a hallucination…’ But I could not forget him. Unlike the rapid metaprogramming during a peyote trip, in which you are never sure what is real and what is just the metaprogrammer playing games, this experience had all the qualities of waking reality, and differed only in intensity. The entity in the cornfield had been more beautiful, more charismatic, more divine than anything I could consciously imagine when using my literary talents to try to portray a deity. As the mystics of all traditions say so aggravatingly, ‘Those who have seen, know.’ Well, I had seen, but I didn’t know. I was more annoyed than enlightened. But that was not to be my last encounter with that particular critter. Five years later, in 1968, [RAW] read Carlos Castaneda’s The Teachings of Don Juan, dealing with traditional Mexican shamanism and its use of the sacred cactus. Castaneda, an anthropologist, saw the same green man several times, and Don Juan Matus, the shaman, said his name was Mescalito. He was the spirit of the peyote plant…”00001
RAW’s enthusiasm for psychedelics led to his 1964 article for Paul Krassner’s The Realist, “Timothy Leary and his Psychological H-Bomb” the result of an interview he conducted with Timothy Leary in 1964 at the Millbrook Ashram. As RAW noted:
“Later [Leary] asked me if I had majored in psychology, and was surprised to find most of my college years had been in the physical sciences. My knowledge of psychology comes entirely from omnivorous reading and several friendships with people in the field, but it may partially explain why Timothy Leary and I had a different sort of relationship than Tim usually has with writers and journalists.”00002
RAW became an ardent Leary advocate, and in the years to follow the two would forge a close personal and professional bond, co-authoring a number of articles together, as well as developing “The Eight Circuit Model of Consciousness” concept.
RAW continued his psychedelic explorations into the 1970s, incorporating consciousness expansion techniques, wicca, magick, tantra, yoga and in particular a Crowleyean ritual known as the “Conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel.” On July 23rd, 1973—coming down off an aca>id trip—RAW was performing this Crowleyean ritual when he came into contact with what he perceived to be entities from the Sirius star system. RAW later discovered that July 23 is the very day when Sirius rises behind the sun, the fabled “Dog Days” as they are called. During this same period, RAW was in correspondence with Leary. As RAW recalled:
“In January 1974, Dr. Leary published Terra II, in which he reported his experiments during July-August 1973, attempting to achieve telepathic communication with higher Intelligences elsewhere in the galaxy. Dr. Leary “received” 19 transmissions—the so-called Starseed Transmissions—which he cheerfully admits may be hallucinations. He presents evidence and arguments that they may also be not-hallucinations.
“As soon as I read Terra II, it was obvious to me that I had somehow, during my yoga [magick] sessions, tuned in on Dr. Leary’s brain-waves. My July 23 communication from Sirius was either part of the Transmissions from the higher minds of the galaxy or was part of Dr. Leary’s hallucination, telepathically shared with me. Dr. Leary, however, did not mention Sirius…”00003
Greg Hill chronicled his psychedelic experiments in a number of journal entries, including a three page account from April 1965 entitled “An Experience with Mescaline.” (Download here.)
Body becomes helpless with laughter
As whirly-gig bugs return,
Chills are back too
And the room is
Save one single point
Of life and warmth:
Far below on the floor.
As a Holy Guru
The Omniscient flame
Radiates its serenity
To all who
And body is once again granted
In the mid 1960s, Kerry Thornley joined Kerista, “a sexually swinging psychedelic tribe” into mate swapping, dope smoking and acid tripping. Renowned for their “beautiful weekend orgies,” Kerista was established in New York the late 1950s by John Presmont (aka Brother Jud). After running afoul of the law in NYC, Brother Jud and his crew moved to Southern California, where they joined forces with Kerry. During this period, Kerry’s income was a total of $50 a week, which he earned from writing “case histories,” most of them factual, for Monogram Publications—a southern California erotica publisher—based on his experiences with the Keristas.00004
In 1966, the group’s newspaper changed its name from Kerista to Kerista Swinger, presumably to generate greater appeal with a new generation of hip sexual experimenters. Kerry—calling himself “Young Omar”—wrote several articles for Kerista Swinger, including the group’s mission statement:
Kerista is a religion and the mood of Kerista is one of holiness. Do not, however, look for a profusion of rituals, dogmas, doctrines, and scriptures. Kerista is too sacred for that. It is more akin to the religions of the East and, also, the so-called pagan religions of the pre-Christian West. Its fount of being is the religious experience and that action or word or thought which is not infused with ecstasy is not Kerista. And Kerista, like those religions of olden times, is life-affirming.
By 1967—the so-called “Summer of Love”—Kerry’s politics had gone through a radical shift. His rallying cry was now “sex, drugs, and treason”—everything that flew in the face of a conservative agenda he’d previously embraced with his enthusiasm for Ayn Rand styled Libertarianism. As Kerry later wrote:
When the conservatives began complaining that radical students were interested in nothing but “sex, drugs, and treason” I realized that, instinctually, they had hit the nail on the head. Sex, drugs, and treason were the three things I stood for…. Regarding sex, I became firmly convinced that unless there were trends established in our culture in the direction of uncompromising sexual honesty, tolerance for minority sexual preferences, equal treatment of the sexes, rational openness concerning VD and birth control, and saner attitudes regarding sex and child-rearing, particularly with reference to masturbation—further meaningful social change would not be possible…
Regarding drugs, I gained a great deal of respect for psychedelic substances as powerful tools for restructuring portions of one’s personality which could not be reached by intellectual effort alone, for expanding one’s sense of identification and compassion, and for opening the narrow and dry Western ego to mystical possibilities. Zen and similar styles of meditation, along with the yoga disciplines, I came to see as methods for maintaining psychedelic levels of awareness, once the chemicals had demonstrated the nature of such modes of consciousness…
Regarding treason, I came gradually to a position of supporting nearly all factions on the radical left, except in their quarreling with each other and the dogmatic insistence of some of these groups on the insistence of political violence (or, in other cases, the immorality of violence under all circumstances). I came to this position without ever abandoning some of the more libertarian elements on the extreme right. Meanwhile, I continued to refine my own political philosophy of anarchism—not because I favored “violence and chaos” with which anarchism is nearly always falsely equated, but because of my opposition to violence and chaos, for which government military machines and bureaucratic structures are largely responsible in today’s world…00005
Kerry Thornley helped organize the Griffith Park Human Be-Ins, which were the perfect set and setting to display his irreverent brand of humor. At the first Be-In, Kerry cut a singular swath, equipped with a sign that read: “Stamp out quicksand. Ban LSD.” Fellow Discordian Louise Lacey (Lady L., F.A.B.) recalled the first Griffith Park Be-In thusly:
The weather was perfect. We were all stoned. A single engine plane came and circled, and I thought it was the media, keeping track of us, but then a man all in white dropped down with a parachute and the crowd roared with approval. Later I learned that an old friend of mine from Marin County was the pilot. He got that plane out fast, because it was illegal to parachute within the city limits.
The Be-In was fascinating because I had never seen such a large collection of freaks. I couldn’t keep from grinning. I was particularly interested because some hard assed sociologist had said that when you were on LSD you were extremely susceptible to being led. I was watching for people being led.
I saw a group of people organized into a crack-the-whip game. Twenty or twenty-five people formed and a man with a megaphone was giving them instructions. (Definitely planned.)
“Move up the hill, move down. Hang on tight. Join with more people.” I couldn’t tell if anyone was listening or just all having fun. The people at the end of the line were moving so fast they kept being thrown off, tumbling down the hill in the grass, laughing hysterically. Then some of the crack-the-whip people let go of the hands of the people around them and drifted off. The megaphone man yelled more loudly. “Hang on, don’t let go.” More people drifted away. He was screaming now. The group all dropped hands and disappeared in the crowds and the megaphone man was screaming at the top of his amplified voice, “Come back! We are playing a game here!” But the people were gone.
I didn’t worry any more about what that sociologist had said.
Many groups of people were gathered as “families of friends.” It was the first time I had seen this form of organization. So there were tents, and lean-to’s and lots of signs pounded into the dirt, describing one thing or another to identify who the friends were. (This is where Kerry’s sign fit in.) As I didn’t live in L.A., I didn’t recognize anyone other than Kerry’s friends, who didn’t stay around his sign, but it didn’t matter. I “knew” the strangers as friends, and we laughed and hugged and shared doobies, and listened to music and I moved on. Nobody got hurt, everyone had a good time (except, I imagine, the man with the megaphone). As the day progressed, I gravitated back to Kerry’s sign and others did, too, and we shared what we had experienced, eventually gathered our stuff and drove home to Kerry’s. A most successful day.00006
At the time, Kerry had moved into a house in the Watts section of Los Angeles that became a sort of psychedelic social center. One frequent visitor to this scene was Kerry’s friend, Bud Simco, who recalled:
“Kerry was charismatic and had the ability to attract diverse personalities, people who would normally not be associated with each other, except by the force of Kerry’s personality. For example, there were so-called hippie types tripping under the dining room table, holding burning candles in their hands, while right-wing types were holding forth in the kitchen. One such character I recall had never been to Watts before, and showed up wearing a bullet-proof vest and armed with a .45. He seemed reasonable enough, in conversation, but he was taking no chances [having never been around hippies before]. There were people from all walks of life… including a pilot for the Flying Tiger Airlines, a student from MIT, some swingers, a fashion model, some writers, some SDS student types, and various and sundry others whom I did not know. One of my guests at one particular gathering was a former motorcycle gang member who lost his foot in a motorcycle accident, and his beautiful American Indian wife, who was at the time a co-worker of mine. He had never seen such an assorted group of people in his life, for example, but with his tambourine, magic mushrooms and a Donovan LP loudly playing, asserted his presence along with all the diverse others in one righteous happening. The thing is, everyone was tolerant of the other, regardless of individual inclinations and/or politics. At such an event, many people would never even interact with other groups, in other rooms, although many did. That was the one universal factor re: being present at one of Kerry’s gatherings, either at his home in Watts, or perhaps at one of the original “Be-Ins” at Griffith Park…”00007
A frequent visitor to Kerry’s house in Watts was John Overton who after his first acid trip changed his name to Camden Benares, the idea of which was to bring the teachings of the East into the West: “Camden” for Camden, New Jersey, and “Benares” after Benares, India, the city where the Buddha delivered his first sermon. Benares went on to write the classic Zen Without Zen Masters and was a contributor to the Principia Discordia with “A Zen Story” on page 00005. Camden’s Discordian name was Felix Pendragon. Felix—according to Discordian legend—always carried a pen, and in said pen was a joint. So, when somebody asked Camden who Felix Pendragon was, he’d take out the pen, remove the joint, and “drag on” it.
While this scene was happening at Kerry’s Watts house, Greg Hill was finishing up his military service. After his discharge in early ‘68, he relocated to San Francisco, and ramped up his Discordian activities while immersing himself in the burgeoning counterculture. Among these endeavors included the “Plant Seeds” chain letter he anonymously forwarded to underground papers and news outlets courtesy of “The Discordian Society.”
In addition to disseminating Groovy Kits to his circle of Discordian co-conspirators, Hill interacted with many of the psychedelic luminaries (and trouble makers) of the era, including Tim Leary, Art Kleps of the Neo American Church (author of the Boo Hoo Bible) and Jefferson Poland (aka ‘Jefferson Fuck Poland’) of the Psychedelic Venus Church, among others, often joining their respective psychedelic churches and receiving certain sacraments through the mail. One batch of illuminating correspondence that Hill received from Kleps included a curious index card:
Dr. Robert Newport was another long time friend of both Hill and Thornley as well as contributor to the Principia Discordia with “The Parable of the Bitter Tea” (page 00037) In Brenton Clutterbuck’s book Chasing Eris, Newport recalled his introduction to LSD:
“I was in this psychiatric residency in California in the late 1960s, and the world was in turmoil…. I had been struggling to keep up with all of it, then Greg [Hill] showed up with LSD, and that was goodnight… I had taken LSD months before I left for Okinawa [drafted into the military]… my head was just completely blown apart. And the hostility and violence of the military—I was not obeying too much. I became a revolutionary; I was doing all kinds of things that could have gotten me court-martialed. I didn’t because I tended to be smart enough to stay ahead of whomever… But eventually I was totally stupid and got myself kicked out, which was OK. I didn’t belong there anyway.” 00008
Greg Hill addressed Newport’s troubled military service in his Discordian newsletter The Greater Poop:
The Rev. Dr. Hypocrates, [Newport], has returned from his Okinawa Mission and is presently at Norton Cabal awaiting developments. Brother Hypoc, as you may or may not know, is a POEE psychiatrist who completed his residency in Berkeley a year ago and then promptly got his ass drafted into the United States Air Farce. Poop readers may recall a Xerox of Hypoc’s dog tag which started “Erisian” for religion (issue #6)…
Brother Hypoc [Newport], narrowly escaping legal prosecution, for some LSD antics, because of his professional status as an MD and his privileged status as an Officer, is presently trying to discharge the Pentagon from his life. Human beings in comparable situations but without Privilege Status, of course, are routinely crucified, caged, or psychosmashed by the pig machine, but they couldn’t send Hypoc to the Base Psychiatrist because Hypoc was the Base Psychiatrist, and he advocates that military psychology be in the service of mental health. Due to the awkwardness of the Military’s position, a discharge seems realistic—as soon as Big Uncle finally understands that Rev. Dr. Magoun has sworn the Hippocratic oath as a healer and finds it his moral obligation to RELEASE every person he can from the destructive and corruptive state of being in which the government confines US Citizens for the purpose of turning human beings into soldiers…
This loose-knit Discordian network in which Greg Hill found himself front-and-center was similar to the scene that revolved around Kerry Thornley’s pad in Watts; a colorful coterie of personalities moving from one end of the political spectrum to the other; a melting pot of freaks interested in alternative religions, sexual experimentation, psychedelics, political activism, the civil rights and the back-to-nature movements—with a dash of whimsy and irreverence added in—all of these cultural currents were part of this Discordian letter writing circle that Hill orchestrated.
While some of the Early Discordians have been associated with Libertarianism, it should be noted that their brand of Libertarianism had more to do with hippies and Yippies and freaks of all stripes than it did with current Libertarian strains. The Discordian Society’s involvement in these earlier Libertarian strains concerned their opposition to government overreach into our bedrooms and brains; whereas, nowadays, those who identify themselves as Libertarianism are, in many instances, focused on gutting environmental regulations, which runs counter to where many of the Early Discordians heads were at, such as Louise Lacey, who was more of the Anarcho-Libertarian persuasion: pro-environment and at the same time anti-privatization of land. Louise was one of the founders of the Earth People’s Park.
How can one man own another man?
How can one man own another’s time?
How can he own another’s energy?
How can he OWN a piece of the sky, or the sea, or the earth?
“And who shall command the skylark not to sing?”
—Earth People’s Park brochure (2/70)
A couple other Early Discordians, Tim Wheeler (Harold Randomfactor) and his wife Mary Wheeler (Hope Springs) were about as conservative (politically) as you could get, although with an abiding enthusiasm for the Ritual of St. Gulik. To this end, Wheeler cultivated a marijuana crop on his farm in Indiana to help supplement his income as a humor writer for the National Review. As Mary Wheeler reminisced:
“When we moved to Indiana, we had 25 acres of land, and three acres surrounding the house; that is, not under cultivation. Yes, we grew a lot of pot—it kept us afloat through those years. It was an income for us, though it simply horrifies me now to think how reckless we were. I don’t know about the others [Discordians], but we smoked just for the feel good. No thoughtful insights, no magical apparitions. We smoked with a couple of our conservative friends, but I don’t know about the others. My guess is that everybody smoked, but most people didn’t gab about it…”00009
In the early-70s, Bob Newport relocated to the Russian River area, north of San Francisco. At the time, land was dirt cheap there and he was able to acquire a couple of properties, one of which was a five-hundred seat movie theatre—located in a converted military Quonset hut—named The Rio Theatre.
Newport enlisted Greg Hill and his wife Jeanetta to co-manage the theatre, and over time Cinema Rio became a community effort, a theatre by and for the local freaks, who had fled city life to live among the redwoods along the river in a back-to-nature setting. Cinema Rio was unique in the sense that it was a community effort, a theater by and for the local freaks. In this spirit, artists helped decorate the building, which included a marquee with a free-flowing Mayan theme painted by Wilfred dePaola. Once a month, all the locals who worked at the theatre would gather for a party/meeting and select the films for the following month, usually titles that reflected the counterculture, like Easy Rider or Woodstock.
During this period, Newport operated a psychiatry practice at a property he acquired in nearby Guerneville with a sign at the entrance that read: “Trespassers Welcome.” The property consisted of an acre and a half, with several cabins scattered throughout the redwoods. Newport was also heavily involved with the psych department at nearby Sonoma State; his “office” was located in a tree house on the property, in the center of a circle of redwoods, in addition to a fifteen-foot hot tub where Newport conducted group therapy sessions.
Newport became dissatisfied with the local public school system and decided to home school his children:
“I put together a small school on my property,” Newport recalled, “because I didn’t want to send my kids to the public school, which was horrendous; it was a redneck school and the teachers hated hippies and tortured kids—I mean they were just terrible to the kids who were going there—so I started a school for my kids and hired a governess out of San Francisco… a licensed, credentialed teacher who was also dropping out, and she came up, and that lasted about three days before word got out, and suddenly I had 20 kids in school, and that then started a home schooling movement and we had eight different schools. In all the satellite communities we had close to 300 kids from K to 12, all with teachers who were dropping out, but credentialed… we started a school board and my wife and I administered all of the schools on a budget of 50,000 bucks, which was like charging parents who could afford it 20 bucks a month to put their kids in school, and parents who couldn’t afford it put their kids in school for nothing because we were not in anything to make money…”00010
RAW—who had relocated just north of Guerneville, in Rio Nido—was a frequent visitor to the Russian River scene, and his son, Graham received psychological counseling from Newport, which in turn led to interactions with Tim Leary. As Newport recalled:
“[Leary] and I had an interchange one day. He wanted to talk to me about Bob [Wilson's] son, shortly when he was breaking and coming apart. So I talked to him about it, and [Leary] had, as far as I could see as a psychologist, as little empathy, real empathy, and as little understanding of schizophrenia as anybody I’d ever met. And it just pissed me off. I was really hoping I was going to get something… So he and I never interfaced really well after that. And Bob sort of rescued Leary, over the objections of a lot of the hip community who felt that Leary had really sold out a lot of people to enumerate his own problems with the law. And there were a lot of people who were pissed off at Bob, too, for doing that. I would do anything to get anybody out of prison, but I don’t think I’d sell out my friends to get myself out of prison and he basically did that. So I basically didn’t have much regard for him after that. I like the stuff he wrote but I didn’t think much of him as a human being.”00011
Not long after opening The Rio Theatre, an old redwood dance hall across the street from the theatre came up for sale, which Newport and Hill purchased and started a community center there that included a restaurant called Stone Soup, in addition to a food co-op, a health clinic (ran by a doctor who had dropped out), as well as an office for the community newspaper.
“A few rock musicians would come through… and all summer long we had these concerts which we organized, and as part of the concert we fed people. A lot of kids would drop through with nothing and were on the road and hungry and on weekends they could sleep on the beach and count on getting fed…”00012
Meanwhile, Camden Benares had his own scene going on a few miles south of Monte Rio at Camp Meeker, which consisted of a cluster of summer cabins that had been overrun by hippies. Kerry Thornley joined Camden there in a lifestyle dedicated to hedonism and assorted forms of Discordian debauchery. At the time, Camden was married to his second wife, Melissa, and mate swapping was a common theme at Camp Meeker, as both Camden and Kerry had been into swinging going back to his days with Kerista in the mid-60s. Kerry and Melissa were an item for awhile; Kerry referred to her as “his ambassador to the world.” Another member of the party was a six-foot-two tall lady named Jerry.
During this period, Benares was writing erotica for The San Francisco Ball. Kerry was also a frequent contributor to The Ball, chronicling his opinions in a column called “Erotic Minority Liberation,” a 13-part series where he defended nearly every taboo under the sun, including exhibitionists, voyeurs, fetishists, transvestites, nymphomaniacs, obscene phone callers, animal lovers, and sadomasochists.
For shits and giggles, Camden sent out sporadic dispatches to his Discordian friends under the title of The Camp Meeker Truth and Foma Forum.
Benares was also working on a book project, Zen Without Zen Masters, which was subsequently published in 1977 and, like Illuminatus!, dedicated to the dynamic duo of Thornley and Hill.
Cinema Rio and the Monte Rio Community Center eventually folded in the spring of 1973, largely because Newport and Hill were over-extended financially. But there were other factors, as well, which caused the scene to run its course, namely the dissolution of Greg’s marriage to his wife, Jeanetta. As Newport recalled:
“It would have been a miracle if the marriage had survived. Life at the River was incredibly difficult. I mean it was wild, it was high and it was fun, it was creative… and there was no money, which meant that just trying to scrimp by with a living was hard to do… It was hard for me, too. I mean I had a little income because I had a practice going. But the theatre made no money—that cost us money. All these other activities we had going—none of them made money… So things were incredibly stressful. And when the marriage broke up, Greg became very depressed. And basically about that time, my mentor who lived next door to me, who had been a very interesting old man, who had dropped out as a President of Union Bank, and had come to the River, and had a very interesting Libertarian philosophy… ah, anyhow, he died, Jeanetta left, and pretty much everything collapsed…”00013
Psychedelic experimentation continued coursing through the Discordian bloodstream well into the 1970s. In a December 1974 letter, Newport reported to Greg Hill that “There’s a new psychedelic out – Legal, too, still – Ketamine HCL. Dosage 100mg. By I.M. injection – Cosmic consciousness in 4 min. Lasts 1 hour – 2 additional hours to come back down – Brand names Ketaject & Ketalar – Ask a long-haired doctor for a prescription.”
On November 23, 1976—which just so happens to be a holy Discordian Holiday, both due to the mystical manifestation of the number 23 and because it’s Harpo Marx’s birthday—an Englishman named Kenneth Campbell premiered a ten-hour stage production of Wilson and Shea’s Illuminatus! novel at the Science-Fiction Theatre in Liverpool. In true Discordian fashion, the production consisted of five plays of five acts (according with the Discordian Law of Fives) with each act 23 minutes in duration. As RAW wrote in Cosmic Trigger:
Campbell’s adaptation was totally faithful to this nihilistic spirit and contained long unexpurgated speeches from the novel explaining at sometimes tedious length just why everything the government does is always done wrong. The audiences didn’t mind this pedantic lecturing because it was well integrated into a kaleidoscope of humor, suspense, and plenty of sex (more simulated blow jobs than any drama in history, I believe.)00014
RAW and his co-author Robert Shea traveled to London to attend the production of Illuminatus! According to some accounts, RAW came bearing LSD tabs which he passed out to the cast members before the play commenced. As he recalled:
“The cast dared me to do a walk-on role during the National Theatre run. I agreed and became an extra in the Black Mass, where I was upstaged by the goat, who kept sneezing. Nonetheless, there I was, bare-ass naked, chanting ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law’… and I will never stop wondering how much of that was programmed by [Aleister] Crowley before I was even born.”00015
The following year, a Discordian reunion took place that included RAW and his wife Arlen, Bob Newport and his wife Rita, Louise Lacey and Greg Hill who traveled to Seattle to attend the U.S. performance of the Illuminatus! stage play.
‘Twas a chilly night in Seattle, so someone (who shall remain nameless) produced enough MDMA for one and all (ingested between the second and third acts) which in due time took the chill from the bones of the assembled Discordians—and cranked up the glow surrounding their collective auras—as they sat enraptured, entranced by the spectacle. Louise Lacey recalls the Illuminatus! stage production as a “sublime experience.” As usual, laughter was a common theme. On the plane to Seattle, the group laughed all the way there, and in Seattle they laughed all through the stage play, laughed the rest of the night, and laughed all the way back home….00016
00001 Wilson, Robert Anton. 2016. Cosmic Trigger I: Final Secret of the Illuminati. Hilaritas Press. (Pages 22-23)
00002 Wilson, Robert Anton. Starseed Signals: Link Between Worlds. Unpublished manuscript. (Page 19).
00003 ibid. (Page 18)
00004 Gorightly, Adam. The Prankster and the Conspiracy: The Story of Kerry Thornley and How He Met Oswald and Inspired the Counterculture. Paraview Press. (Page 49)
00005 Thornley, Kerry. 1975. Untitled paper. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
00006 Gorightly, Adam. The Prankster and the Conspiracy: The Story of Kerry Thornley and How He Met Oswald and Inspired the Counterculture. Paraview Press. (Page 60)
00007 ibid. (Page 50)
00008 Clutterbuck, Brenton. Chasing Eris. (Page 51)
00009 “The Secret History of Immanentizing the Eschaton: The Mary Wheeler Interview”, historiadiscordia.com. November 2, 2014.
00010 Clutterbuck, Brenton. Chasing Eris. (Page 53)
00011 Excerpt from Brenton Clutterbuck’s interview with Robert Newport, 2012 .
00012 Clutterbuck, Brenton. Chasing Eris. (Page 53)
00013 Gorightly, Adam. < a href="https://amzn.to/2IL23V9">The Prankster and the Conspiracy (p. 140). Cosimo, Inc. Kindle Edition.
00014Wilson, Robert Anton. 2016. Cosmic Trigger I: Final Secret of the Illuminati. Hilaritas Press. (Page 224)
00016 Gorightly, Adam. The Prankster and the Conspiracy: The Story of Kerry Thornley and How He Met Oswald and Inspired the Counterculture. Paraview Press. (Page 210)
My version of Eris, the Greek goddess of chaos and confusion. She’s more inspired by Discordianism than by the Greek myths, but she exists in the same universe as my other versions of the Greek gods.
She is very misunderstood and disliked by most of the other gods, since they don’t recognize that chaos, discord and confusion sometimes can be positive qualities.
The thing that she says is taken from Principia Discordia, a handbook that is said to “teach you how to turn your miserable mess into a beautiful, joyful, and splendid one”.
Welcome to the final installment of our Rev. Raymond Broshears extravaganza.
As noted in Part 00001 of this seemingly never-ending series, Broshears had been arrested (allegedly) in 1965 for threatening the life of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. According to Bernard Fensterwald’s Assassination of JFK by Coincidence or Conspiracy?, Broshears “made the threat on Johnson’s life in order to be placed under protective custody, where he would be safe from unspecified ‘harassment.’ He later escaped prosecution by basing his defense on mental illness…”
Recently, I discovered some notes by investigator Steve Jaffee regarding this supposed Broshears-LBJ death threat caper, which we’ll get to in a bit. While Jaffee’s not a name that immediately comes to mind in relation to the Jim Garrison investigation, he was nonetheless an active player on several fronts, particularly following up on West Coast leads. Jaffee falls into the category of a “Dealey Plaza Irregular,” one of the many independent researchers Garrison welcomed with open arms, even providing his Irregulars with official identification cards—which meant of course that they were totally official.
In regards to this supposed LBJ death threat, Jaffee interviewed Rev. Broshears on August 8, 1968, and according to his notes:
“While on a television program in Los Angeles, California, the Stan Bohrman Show, July 8, 1968, BROSHEARS stated that he had been arrested for threatening the life of President Johnson. He said that he had made the statement, ‘President Johnson, who was responsible directly or indirectly for the assassination of our beloved President Kennedy, should be put to death.’ BROSHEARS told us he had made these statements because of what DAVID FERRIE had told him… In approximately September 1965, BROSHEARS was arrested by Secret Service agents and Federal Marshals and taken to the Veterans Administration Hospital in New Orleans. There he was arraigned by Federal Judge Christenberry in the presence of other Secret Service agents for conspiring to assassinate President Johnson. Mark Lane asked BROSHEARS who the other co-conspirators were. BROSHEARS said that he had made statements and discussed President Johnson in a disparaging way with four others who were also arraigned…
“After being questioned at Gulfport Hospital by Secret Service agents, one of the agents returned from Washington, D.C., and told BROSHEARS, ‘You’ll get a compensation pension. You will have to report to us every time you move from one city to another. If you do not do these things, you will be put in a federal jail mental institution…’”
It occurred to me that—if indeed this alleged Broshears-LBJ death threat incident ever actually occurred—there might be some official records pertaining to the matter. That being the case, a light bulb went off in my head (as light bulbs have been occasionally known to do) that perhaps a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was in order. But before going down that road, I decided to scour the web for any Broshears FOIA files that had shaken loose in recent times and, lo and behold, came across this goldmine of Rev. Ray curiosities courtesy of Russ Kick, a whopping 500 pages of FOIA material that is indeed quite revealing, however there was nothing in there about Broshears and the supposed LBJ death threat. To this end, I suspect Reverend Ray was under some sort of delusion regarding this incident because it occurred at the same time he was incarcerated for groping a male youth as chronicled in Part 00001 of this startling series.
Anyway, enough of this LBJ death threat tangent. Let’s jump into the Broshears FOIA files and let them lead us where they may.
Our FOIA foray starts on February 5, 1969, with a letter Rev. Broshears sent to the “director of service” which found its way to J. Edgar Hoover. Apparently, Broshears had a beef with a group called the Economics Opportunities Commission who, according to the Rev., was supporting “activities that are most questionable in the eyes of many…”
On Feb 12, 1969, Hoover responded to “Dr. Broshears” informing him that the matter was not within the Bureau’s “investigative jurisdiction.”
Evidently, Hoover didn’t have a clue what Broshears was going on about, but nevertheless decided to be civil because there’s never any benefit in riling up some crank with an alleged history of threatening a sitting President. As previously noted, Broshears had a long established pattern of complaining to public officials about one thing or another, and usually not liking the responses he received from these complaints, which led to even more complaints and a never ending cycle of Broshears getting miffed at any number of officials, who themselves were probably perpetually perplexed about what all the fuss was. In addition, Broshears filed a flurry of frivolous lawsuits over the years, including one to the IRS when they refused to recognize his ministry as a non-profit.
Broshears next run-in with the Feds occurred on March 3, 1969, when he popped into the San Francisco FBI field office:
“to discuss a [Vietnam war] deserter matter. SA [Special Agent] DEAN subsequently went on a road trip to the Monterey RA from the period 3/19-26-69 and when he returned received word that Rev. BROSHEARS desired that he, SA DEAN, call him. On the following morning, 3/27/69, SA DEAN attempted to contact Rev. BROSHEARS telephonically, however, received no answer. The same occurred on 3/28/69. SA DEAN advised that Broshears called him on 3/31/69, wanted to know why his call was not returned, and when SA DEAN explained that he had been out of town and attempted to return his call to no avail, BROSHEARS was unreasonable, refused to listen to any explanation and told SA DEAN to forget about it.”
On April 4:
“The Reverend BROSHEARS contacted an Agent on complaint duty in the San Francisco Office…and inquired as to where he should address a communication to lodge a complaint against SA IRVING R. DEAN. Reverend BROSHEARS was invited to discuss this matter with the SAC, however, he stated that he did not feel this would solve anything, since Special Agents of the FBI were rude. He was furnished the address of FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he might address the complaint…”
Rev. Broshears again reached out to Director Hoover on April 9, 1969 about FBI Special Agent Irving Dean, who the good reverend accused of “lack of co-operation and rude speaking…”
Following these interactions, the FBI compiled background info on Broshears in an April 15, 1969 memoranda describing him as:
Rev. Broshears resumed communications with Director Hoover on July 12, 1969, warning about a “proposed invasion of Alcatraz Island” that he was apparently trying to pin on Dr. Kirby Hensley of The Universal Life Church (ULC), which of course was rather odd because Broshears had received his own mail order ordination courtesy of Dr. Hensley, but now for some reason had decided that Hensley was an enemy of the state. Broshears’ beef with Hensley, I suspect, had to do with the ULC’s policy of indiscriminately issuing ordinations to anyone who desired them—including a large number of Vietnam draft dodgers trying to start their own churches to avoid the draft—and the reason Broshears was ticked off was because he had started his own church using this same shtick, but got busted for it. According to researcher Larry Hancock, “Broshears ordered himself the same mail order religious credentials that [Thomas] Beckham and [Fred] Crisman did [from the Universal Life Church] and when he moved to the west coast he apparently began selling something similar to guys wanting to avoid the draft. When he got challenged over that he apparently decided simply to become an informant and finger his customers. I did have documents on all that but putting my hands on them now would be a real challenge…”
“a homosexual, hippie minister, with a history of mental illness…during the course of another investigation, in August, 1968, it was determined that BROSHEARS has received treatment at the following Veteran Administration Hospitals: St. Louis and Jefferson Barracks, Missouri; Gulfport and Biloxi, Mississippi; Topeka, Kansas; New Orleans, Louisiana; Los Angeles, California; Palo Alto, California and Long Beach, California. Hospitals records at Palo Alto reflected that all hospital records treating BROSHEARS had diagnosed him as a schizophrenic reaction, paranoia, incompetent. He is described as having a history of fraudulent enlistments in the military—manipulative behavior—difficulty with authority, assaultiveness, suicidal attempts, strong and poorly controlled hostility, guilty [sic] and hostility, homosexuality, chronic brain syndrome associated with compulsive disorder, probably secondary brain trauma. Agents of this office have been instructed to be extremely circumspect in any future contacts with him…”
An FBI memorandum, dated July 18, 1969, stated that:
“[Broshears] letter indicated he was concerned about a proposed invasion of Alcatraz Island by Bishop Kirby J. Hensley, Universal Life Church, and others, He indicated he had brought his concern to the attention of our San Francisco Office, but that the Agent with whom he spoke appeared to be quite unconcerned and treated him just as another ‘crank.’ His enclosures were Xerox copies of newspaper articles, from various papers, and concerned the conviction of Hensley for issuing mail order Doctor of Divinity degrees. A handprinted article indicated that Hensley would lead a group of people on an invasion of Alcatraz Island. He also furnished a leaflet from the Council of New Age Churches which denounced ‘mail order ministers’ and sets forth some of the requirements for churches belonging to this organization. It urges support of the police…”
The Council of New Age Churches (CNAC) was an entity of Broshears own creation, started around 1969 or so, and it never really attracted much of a following, as far as I can tell. Broshears eventually passed the CNAC torch to Dr. Frank Stranges, who allegedly met with Venusian space captain named Valiant Thor, as chronicled in Part 00003 of this startling series.
Broshears again came up on the FBI’s radar in August 1969 due to his involvement with an anti-war collective called the Bay Area Peace Action Council (BAPAC). This was during the COINTELPRO period when the FBI was monitoring anti-war activists and “subversives.” Apparently, the Feds obtained a copy of the BAPAC meeting notes, which listed participants, including Rev. Broshears, who was identified as “Ray Allen.” A related FBI memo dated May 4, 1970 stated:
“Captioned individual [Ray Allen aka Rev. Broshears]…as being an officer or leader in the organization with which he is affiliated. In accordance with current Bureau instructions a background investigation should be conducted on this person and a communication be directed to the Bureau with a recommendation as to whether or not subject warrants inclusion on the SI.”
Having nary a clue what “SI” was, I canvassed FOIA experts in my Twitterverse about what exactly this acronym stood for, and received the following response from the Black Vault’s John Greenwald: “I believe that is ‘SECURITY INDEX’ and is along the same lines as COINTELPRO. It is believed Hoover started it in 1939, and not many people were aware of it at the time. My guess is that is what your file is referring to.”
Further internet sleuthing led to this Wikipedia entry that goes in depth on the history of the “Security Index” which was basically a listing of potentially subversive individuals the Bureau decided to keep a live file on.
Broshears, bless his crazy heart, continued pestering the FBI as documented in the memorandum below dated July 8, 1970.
Later that year—according to a memo dated October 10, 1970—Broshears contacted the FBI complaining “that officers of the SFPD [San Francisco Police Department] invaded his church on 9/8/70. He requested the USA to look into the matter and asked that he be given justice, that it was one of the jobs of the USA to halt harassment by the SFPD…” The FBI memo goes on to state that Broshears “is also the subject of a close 100-file in the San Francisco Office. He appears to be the subject of BUFILE 62-112657.” This reference to a 100-page file suggests that Broshears status rose at least to a “Security Index” level.
On March 8, 1973, Broshears treated the San Francisco FBI Field Office to yet another…
“telephonic complaint… His remarks were directed toward newspaper accounts on 3/7/73 of Acting Director GRAY’S testimony, specifically concerning support of Sheriff HONGISTO (San Francisco County) by gay activists. Broshears was most uncomplimentary and abusive in his comments. He demanded a copy of this report or an official release by this office as to whether we were investigating homosexuals. He became paranoiac by insinuating that the Federal Government intended to arrest and shoot all homosexuals. He rambled on about LEE HARVEY OSWALD, SIRHAN SIRHAN, and a host of others who had been described as homosexuals. When he was repeated advised that we would have no comment, he finally asked what would coerce a release by this office, a demonstration? He promised to organize a group demonstration Monday, 3/12/73, in front of the Federal Building, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco. True to his past tendencies to seek publicity, he requested that we bring cameras and lots of film. No time was specified for the demonstration….”
Our story takes another turn for the weird with an FBI document from May 1, 1975, concerning death threats made against Rev. Broshears and a number of other San Franciscans involved in the civil rights and gay rights communities, including San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. These threats came in the form of scrawling letters, one of which was sent to Benjamin Criswell, President of the NAACP. According to an FBI report:
“The letter, on page four, set out a threat, ‘I will shoot you in black – head and kill – kill – you – 10 – times shoot you in head and cut your head and burn your nigger body up and put in city dump.’ On page six of the letter concluded with, ‘Your old pal, Mr. SIDNEY FRIEDMAN, Jewish Executive Director, Golden Lodge Number 2464, 302 Silver Avenue, San Francisco, California’ Criswell said he was certain there was no truth to the name being on this for he felt he had a good rapport with the Jewish community in San Francisco.
“CRISWELL received a second letter, this one post-marked San Francisco, April 28, 1975, and showing its author to be HECTOR NAVARRO, 83 Sixth Street, San Francisco. It was determined NAVARRO had been head of a publications assembling office at this address, and it was found the office specialized in mailing homosexual literature. It was learned at 83 Sixth Street that NAVARRO is no longer in the area, and had formerly been publicly referred to as President of this publications assembling office. It also is known as the “Society for Individual Rights (SIR)”.
Rev. Broshears received a similar death threat from the same apparent psycho who threatened Benjamin Criswell, as documented in the FBI report below.
This twisted scenario played itself out again a few days letter, when Broshears received yet another letter, this time claiming to be from Benjamin Criswell himself.
The FBI spent considerable time investigating these lurid letters, including analyzing them at the Quantico lab, but could never develop any substantial leads in the case. Ultimately, the FBI decided it was probably just some harmless nut behind the prank.
A few months after all of this death threat craziness, Sara Jane Moore took her infamous pot shot at President Gerald Ford, which we touched on in the previous installment of this series.
To understand Sara Jane Moore’s assassination attempt on Gerald Ford, one must reference the February 4, 1974, kidnapping of Patricia Hearst by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA).
The hostage negotiations between the SLA and newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst (for the release of his daughter Patty) resulted in Hearst providing funding for an activist collective called People In Need (PIN) to set up a food giveaway program. For a period of time, Moore was PIN’s main bookkeeper, and often the key person involved in processing food deliveries.
Due to her PIN involvement, Moore came up on the radar of the FBI, and was enlisted by the Feds to infiltrate different Bay Area activist cells, a story examined in Geri Spieler’s Taking Aim at the President: The Remarkable Story of the Woman Who Shot at Gerald Ford.
An armchair psychologist might suspect that Sara Jane was radicalized through her involvement with these activist groups. Others of a more conspiratorial bent would suggest that the FBI directed Sara Jane to stage an assassination attempt of the President as a way promote what conspiracy matriarch Mae Brussel referred to as a “strategy of tension,” or what is nowadays referred by conspiracy enthusiasts as a false flag operation. This type of conspiratorial fodder was right in Rev. Broshears’ wheelhouse, as evidenced in a flyer he circulated at the time.
Broshears, as it so happens, was knee deep in the Sara Jane Moore saga. First with his role in outing of Oliver Sipple, which we talked about in our previous installment.
If that wasn’t enough, Rev. Broshears (as revealed in these FOIA files) was loosely associated with Moore.
As noted in the memo, Broshears name was discovered in Moore’s address book, which really wasn’t surprising given the circles the two ran in. (Moore’s name is whited-out in the memo.) Moore’s association with Broshears most likely was a result of interactions the two may have had related to PIN. Broshears—as previously noted—ran a free lunch program for senior citizens in the Tenderloin. According Taking Aim at the President, Moore had compiled a list for the FBI of the major players in the San Fran activist scene, and chances are that Rev. Broshears would be on just such a list.
Broshears appears to have behaved himself for awhile—at least until January 1979—when he contacted the San Fran FBI office claiming to have received a bomb threat that he, in turn, reported to the SFPD, who—according to the Rev.— refused to act on his complaint, which of course got Broshears panties in a knot and is probably as good a place as any to end our story of the one and only Reverend Raymond Broshears!
Rev. Raymond Broshears founded the San Francisco branch of the Gay Activists Alliance and that same year helped organize the city’s first Gay Pride parade.In 1972,
An equal opportunity troublemaker, Broshears eventually pissed off nearly everyone who entered his orbit regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation. Due to a disagreement with fellow Gay Pride parade organizers, the following year (1973) Broshears staged his own gay pride event in competition with the official one, which in due course led to a mini-schism within the San Francisco gay rights community. (Hail Eris! All Hail Broshears!)
Although a polarizing figure, Broshears was a tireless advocate of the homeless, poor and elderly, operating a community center in the Tenderloin called “Helping Hands” that provided free lunches for senior citizens. Other volunteer efforts included an annual Christmas event he organized for patients at Fort Miley Hospital called the “Gay U.S.O. Show.”
To publicize his political activism, Broshears started a newsletter called The Gay Crusader and was continually firing off letters to political figures of the era—from Harvey Milk to Dianne Feinstein to George Moscone—and damn near anybody else who came into prominence during the late-60s and 70s San Francisco political scene. More often than not, these letters (found in abundance in the Broshears Archive at the GLBT library) consisted of long-winded rants not easy to track (even for someone like yours truly who is sort of a kook-whisperer). The Broshears Archive includes this letter from Harvey Milk, who seemed equally mystified by whatever Broshears may have been getting himself wrapped around the axle about.
Broshears enjoyed his fifteen minutes of fame when he formed a group called the Lavender Panthers in response to gay bashing incidents that occurred in San Francisco during the early-70s. This led to a feature story in the October 8, 1973 issue of TIME Magazine describing the Lavender Panthers as a “stiff-wristed team of gay vigilantes… The basic band numbers 21 homosexuals, including two lesbians who are reputedly the toughest hombres in the lot.” The Lavender Panther’s mission, Rev. Broshears informed TIME, was to strike terror in the hearts of “all those young punks who have been beating up my faggots.”
The Lavender Panthers used the same sort of agitprop that the Black Panther Party became infamous for: openly carrying fire arms and training in hand-to-hand combat tactics, such as the martial arts, although much of these activities appeared to be a PR stunt to generate a media buzz, particularly in regards to the Lavender Panthers.
Broshears resided in a hotel in the Tenderloin, and in his room he maintained a printing press for various newsletters he published over the years that included Light and Understanding; The S.F. Crusader (later called The Gay Crusader), and his last production, Focus.
According to a lengthy Broshears’ obit in the January 14, 1982 edition of the Bay Area Reporter,
“A former Golden Gate Business Association official told Bay Area Reporter that many Gay businesses felt they were being extorted by Broshears because they would not advertise in his newspaper. He revealed that in 1979 some GGBA officials and others met to share their knowledge of what they saw as Broshears’ continuing and costly harassment, but they did not know of any legal action they could take. One obstacle they faced was attorney B.J. Beckwith, who was constantly pressing cases against them for Broshears…. Beckwith helped Broshears sue numerous private parties and some businesses, including Bay Area Reporter, on a variety of charges. They were considered by many to be “nuisance” suits that involved the hiring of attorneys by those sued while Broshears enjoyed Beckwith’s services gratis…
“Local Gay businesses were regularly affected by Broshears’ behind the scenes reporting to the police and city agencies. Although he attacked city officials for crackdowns on sex-related businesses in his newspaper, he had his own continuing crusade. Gay bars, bath houses, sex clubs, adult book stores and most recently video cassette stores were constantly threatened by Broshears’ challenges to their permits and licenses. He telephoned and wrote city officials and police officials, plus appeared (often as the only complainant) at hearings to revoke or deny permits and licenses…”
“In 1978, Broshears personally and somewhat gleefully ‘exposed’ an alleged male prostitution operation in the city. Many Gay activists never forgave Broshears for this act because it resulted in the arrest of the popular Jack Campbell, an official of the Club Baths chain and a major financial supporter of Gay rights over many years…”
In January 2018, I appeared on Radio Misterioso with Greg Bishop to discuss our new book ‘A’ is for Adamski: The Golden Age of the UFO Contactees (Available now in a Black & White version or a Full Color version!).
During our conversation, we referenced Rev. Broshears and his connection to famed ufologist Dr. Frank Stranges, mentioned in Part 00003 of this startling series.
In the course of our discussion, I noted how I’d recently happened upon an episode of NPR’s Radio Lab concerning Oliver Sipple, a tragic figure who reluctantly became a national hero over night. On September 22, 1975, Sipple was standing in a crowd of spectators outside of the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco—awaiting an appearance by President Gerald Ford—at which time Sara Jane Moore pulled a .44 caliber Charter Arms revolver out of her pantsuit and fired a single shot that missed the President and ricocheted off a nearby wall. When Moore attempted a second shot, Sipple grabbed her arm. As Sipple recalled: “I saw [her gun] pointed out there and I grabbed for it… I lunged and grabbed the woman’s arm and the gun went off.”
Sipple made every effort to avoid the limelight, mainly because he felt he wasn’t the hero everyone was making him out to be. However—when he arrived home that evening—Sipple was met by a gaggle of reporters who had learned he was a former Marine that had served in Vietnam. Sipple told the reporters not to mention that he was a vet, and added that he didn’t really consider himself a hero. But as much as Sipple attempted to slip into the shadows, the national media quickly latched on to his story, and the following day he was the front page headline in newspapers across the country, basically presented as a war veteran who had heroically saved the President’s life.
Initially, Sipple was hoping his new found fame would blow over in a day or two; that he’d simply be treated to a round of drinks at a local tavern and be done with all the hoo-hah, but a couple days after the story broke, prominent San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen received a message on his answering machine from none other than Harvey Milk, who informed him that Sipple was an active member of the San Francisco gay community. This was during the timeframe when Milk, with great gusto, was encouraging fellow gays to come out of their respective closets. This, it appears, was the main motivation why Milk contacted Caen, along with an agenda to place stories in the media that portrayed the gay community in a more positive light.
Sipple, it turns out, was long time pals with Harvey Milk, and actually worked on one of Milk’s political campaigns. Although Sipple was a guy who clearly wanted to stay in the closet to a certain extent, the gay activist movement of the early 1970s swept up everyone in its path, and unfortunately for Sipple, he got caught up in the shifting winds of a generational change he didn’t have the emotional tools to deal with.
Broshears, independent of Harvey Milk, also called Herb Caen to inform him that Sipple was gay. Broshears, like Milk, thought it would help break the negative stereotype of gay men as limp-wristed sissy-boys who would never raise a finger to save the life of a President. To this end, it’s in no way an understatement to suggest that Sipple most likely saved President Ford’s life. Geri Spieler’s Taking Aim at the President: The Remarkable Story of the Woman Who Shot At Gerald Ford details how Sara Jane Moore’s trusty .44 caliber had been confiscated by the SFPD a day before her assassination attempt, and how the following day Moore purchased a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson. Fortunately for Gerald Ford, the gun sights on the Smith & Wesson were six inches off the point-of-impact, causing Moore’s first shot to just narrowly miss Ford’s noggin. Her second shot would have been at even closer range, and Moore probably wouldn’t have missed that one, had not Sipple intervened.
The revelation of Sipple’s sexual preference soon leaked to other reporters via Caen, and once the genie was out of the bottle Sipple’s fifteen minutes of fame had been given another shot in the arm as national media outlets seized on part two of Sipple’s story, and this news eventually made its way to his parents and friends in Detroit, who were unaware of Sipple’s sexual proclivities, which was the main reason he’d been trying to keep under wraps to begin with. Afterwards, Broshears became a witness in a defamation lawsuit filed by Sipple against the San Francisco Chronicle, claiming that the newspaper had shared his private information against his wishes.
The Radio Lab episode I mentioned featured an interview with Oliver’s nephew, a fellow named George Sipple. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the very same George Sipple had contacted me in August 2016 with some Discordian-related information concerning CREEM magazine.At the time, I really had no idea who George’s uncle, Oliver Sipple, was, nor was it relevant to our Discordian-related communiqués. After my Radio Misterioso appearance—and the mention therein of his late uncle—George Sipple contacted me to say, “Hey, I was the guy who sent you that info on CREEM magazine a couple years ago, and I happened to hear you on Radio Misterioso… and oh, btw, I was on that episode of Radio Lab you mentioned. I’m Oliver Sipple’s nephew!”
These are the sort of synchronicities that always seem to happen to me, Hail Eris!
Oliver Sipple was never really the same after the assassination attempt on Ford, not to mention when the personal revelations of his private life became a national story. These dramatic events no doubt contributed to Sipple slowly drinking himself to death by 1989.
As for Rev. Broshears’ demise, the January 14, 1982 edition of the Bay Area Reporter noted that: “The most controversial Gay personality in San Francisco was found dead in a hallway of his 990 Geary Street apartment on Sunday night [January 10]… of a cerebral stroke.” Broshears was 46 years of age.
Subsequent rumors surfaced that Broshears died of HIV, although this has never been confirmed. Broshears passing was just after the discovery of AIDS became public, so such conjecture may have certainly some substance.
In our next and final installment of this series, we’ll explore some recently discovered FOIA files pertaining to the one and only Reverend Raymond Broshears.
Stan “Doc” Jamison (aka Coman Ra—Lt. Colonel, Commanding 1st Intergalactic Confederacy Advance Detail—Planet Shan) was exchanging information with Rev. Raymond Broshears regarding a contraption called the “Multiple Wave Oscillator.”In March 1970, Discordian Society member
How Doc Jamison became acquainted with Rev. Broshears one can only guess, although it was probably due to their mutual affiliation with the Universal Life Church.
The Multiple Wave Oscillator (MWO) was invented in the 1930s by Georges Lakhovsky, and was said to produce healing therapies through the application of “ultra radio frequencies.”
The MWO has a long history in conspiratorial lore as one of those suppressed inventions along the lines of Wilhelm Reich’s Orgone Accumulator. Here’s a paper Jamison put together on the MWO, to further enlighten (or befuddle) your mind.
From what I’ve been able to piece together, Jamison acquired the MWO from someone in the San Francisco bay area, and Broshears was holding the unit in safekeeping until Jamison had an opportunity to pick it up. That’s when all the fun started.
On March 11, 1970, Jamison sent a letter to fellow Discordian Louise Lacey aka Lady L, F.A.B. (Fucking Anarchist Bitch) alerting her that “in a very few days, Rev. Ray Broshears should have a Lakhovsky M.W.O. unit in his possession…”
Lacey responded to the above letter on June 22: “I’m writing Rev. Ray Broshears about the Lakhovsky MWO unit, and hope to get together with him…” A short time later, Lacey received a phone call from Broshears, as documented in the letter below.
Broshears fired off a letter a few days later, on July 7, informing Jamison that the MWO unit had “gone with the wind” and that Lacey and “her bunch of rotten bastards can go to hell.” This letter included a mini-rant criticizing Jamison for apparently withdrawing support for “Light and Understanding” —whatever that actually entailed. (“Light and Understanding” was Broshears’ newsletter—maybe Jamison let his subscription lapse.) Broshears also notes that the “Council of New Age Churches (CNAC) Convention was an absolute financial disaster, and I resigned the presidency as the honorable thing to do. Dr. Stranges will make an excellent president…”
Dr. Stranges, of course, was the one and only Rev. Frank Stranges, noted ufologist and close associate of Broshears, who was mentioned in the last installment of this startling series.
As noted in our first installment, Rev. Broshears was a key witnesses in Jim Garrison’s case against Kerry Thornley, which at this time was unresolved. When Thornley heard through the Discordian grapevine that Lady L. had been interacting with Rev. Broshears, he implored her: “Please don’t try and convert him; he is far more valuable on the other side as a hostile witness.”
In response, Lacey sent a letter to Thornley, dated August 1, 1970, chronicling her brief but befuddling interactions with Broshears, which she described as a “mind-cracking experience… 30 minutes of tortured insanity about his fear the cops were going to bust him because he had the MWO machine… His head is so messed up that I can’t think of a better hostile witness you could have… I have without a doubt established to my own satisfaction that he doesn’t know what he is talking about…”