Check out this Tom Jackson interview with Adam Gorightly about Caught in the Crossfire in the Sandusky Register.
Here’s a brief summary of the book:
Caught in the Crossfire: Kerry Thornley, Lee Oswald and the Garrison Investigation
By Adam Gorightly
Kerry Thornley never imagined that after starting a spoof religion in the 1950s dedicated to the worship Eris—the Greek Goddess of Chaos and Discord—that such an irreverent yet light-hearted endeavor would unleash, in the years to come, a torrent of actual chaos into his life and turn his world upside down.
In 1959, Thornley served in the Marines with Lee Harvey Oswald and was actually writing a novel based on Oswald three years before JFK’s assassination. These connections would later cause New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison to suspect that Thornley was one of the notorious Oswald doubles and part of a JFK assassination plot. Initially, Thornley denied these allegations, but later came to believe that he’d been used as an unwitting pawn in a conspiracy that ran far deeper than the JFK assassination and may also have included the RFK and MLK assassinations, as well as the disturbing specter of government sponsored mind control.
Trigger Warning: The following article is at least two degrees removed from Discordianism… but it is confusing as hell, so there’s that.
For those who’ve dipped their toes into conspiratorial lore, Fred Crisman turns up all over the place; first with the Maury Island UFO incident, and then later his alleged role in the JFK assassination, rumored to have been one of the three mystery tramps picked up in Dealey Plaza after the dirty deed went down. You can take a deeper dive into Crisman and the Maury UFO incident at this previous link, part of our startling six-part Raymond Broshears’ series.
As it turns out, Maury Island wasn’t Fred Crisman’s first and only UFO rodeo. Recent sleuthing by intrepid researchers Jeff Suwak and Kirk Nelson (with a little assistance from yours truly) have uncovered Crisman’s possible ties to a UFO channeling group identified as “Service Awareness” that were mentioned in Crisman’s testimony before the Orleans Parish grand jury during the Jim Garrison investigation.
As noted in part two of our Rev. Broshears extravaganza, Garrison suspected (or believed, or pretended to believe) that an assortment of fringe religious groups—or “odd sects” as he called them—had been used as fronts for a sprawling JFK assassination conspiracy; political assassins running around in clerical garb with instruments of death concealed within the flowing folds of their robes!
As stated in the passage above, when a Garrison staffer quizzed him about “Service Awareness,” Crisman claimed he had no involvement with the group. However, “Service Awareness” was a transcription error; it should have read: “Servants of Awareness.” So who the heck were they?
“On Thanksgiving day, 1962 a voice expressing itself as Cosmic Awareness began speaking through a university lecturer and ex-army officer who had been in the Bataan Death March.” 00001
The “university lecturer and ex-army officer” was a fellow named Frank Duby, thereafter referred to as the “Interpreter.” According to Cosmic Awareness newsletter: “…[Duby] began studies in depth psychology at [a] Seattle church through funding given by the CIA…” 00002 and it was this “depth psychology” research that led to the formation of a Servants of Awareness forerunner, the Organization of Awareness.
“After several severe heart attacks, the interpreter, Ralph [Duby], finally transitioned in January 1967… After the passing of their interpreter the Organization of Awareness experienced much upheaval. Financial stress and disagreements over what information should be released led to a splintering of the organization and its eventual collapse.
“Organization of Awareness ended shortly thereafter and Servants of Awareness was founded, with David Worcester as its Interpreter. This incarnation continued for 3 years…David hosted an ‘August Affair’ and at this function the future founders of CAC [Cosmic Awareness Communications] were approached by Paul Shockley, a man who would change their lives. Paul was doing Awareness readings but had no idea how to make them available for the good of all people, so they put their heads together and began to go down a path that would become a powerful force for good in so many lives…”
In 1970, as noted above, Paul Shockley became the lead channeler—or “Interpreter”—for CAC. Around this time, the channelings took on a distinctly darker and more conspiratorial tone, as documented in this channeled message dated December 9, 1976.
When I came across these supposed CIA connections to the Servants of Awareness, I immediately flashed on Fred Crisman, who was never bashful about fostering the legend that he was some sort of super spook involved with UFOs and all manner of paranormal intrigue. So I could totally see Crisman pushing the idea he was a CIA mastermind to impress Servants of Awareness members or gain some standing in the group.
As it turns out, Mellen lifted these Crisman/Servants of Awareness allegations from an article published in the November 1975 issue of Crawdaddy magazine that was attributed to the Assassination Information Bureau (AIB), a clearinghouse for JFK assassination info founded in 1972 by Carl Oglesby, author of The Yankee and Cowboy War.
Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, AIB played a pivotal role in petitioning congress to launch the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in 1976. None of this, however, answers the question of where this provocative information concerning Crisman and the Servants of Awareness originated, but my guess is that it circles back to Garrison and a handful of “Dealey Plaza Irregulars” who were feeding Big Jim leads, which he then threw against the wall to see what would stick.
Aside from those two tantalizing tidbits (the snippet from Crisman’s grand jury testimony and the Crawdaddy article) I’ve thus far been unable to find any other evidence linking Crisman with the Servants of Awareness.
To recap, the first iteration of the Servants of Awareness was known as the “Organization of Awareness,” which was an outgrowth of a “church” in Seattle involved in “depth psychology.” The church, in this instance, was the Center of Integration, founded in 1953 by a fellow named Bob Carr, who carved out a niche for himself as a trance channeler along the lines of Edgar Cayce. In this regard, Carr conducted trance readings for individuals to help cure them of sicknesses, both physical and mental, and provided personal counseling, a sort of psychic life coach. Over time, Carr gained a somewhat sizable following which you can learn more about in God Men Con Men: Pursuit of Truth.
A key figure in the Center of Integration scene was the aforementioned Ralph Duby, who later became the first “Interpreter” of the Organization of Awareness (a forerunner to the Servants of Awareness). Another Center of Integration alumnus, David Worcester, took over the “Interpreter” role after Duby’s death in 1967, and at that time the group splintered into a number of factions, one of which was Servants of Awareness. (If you’ve been able to follow along thus far, I commend you, because it only becomes more confusing from here, Hail Eris!)
Back in 1958, the lead channeler at the Center of Integration, Bob Carr, discovered that—due to the church’s non-profit status—they could obtain free quantities of d-lysergic acid 25 for “research purposes” direct from Sandoz Laboratories in Switzerland. This resulted in the acquisition of 100 milligrams of the mighty molecule, which the group then used to great effect during channeling sessions. In the video below, Bob Carr, discusses this period.
LSD channeling sessions appeared to have reached a peak during the Servants of Awareness era (1967-1970), as things got pretty loosey-goosey with David Worcester filling the role as lead “Interpreter.” According to Revelations of Awareness, the Cosmic Awareness newsletter, 10th anniversary edition:
[Worcester] was a very interesting person. He was a good conductor of LSD sessions for many entities, guiding them through the Bardos and death experience ala the Tibetan Book of the Dead. He [would]…switch on the TV news with Walter Cronkite, pull up a stool, light up, and sit before the TV and talk back to Walter Cronkite. David swore the words were being heard by the newscaster as he read the controlled news from his script and that this routine was changing consciousness. As a magician, David took a lot of credit for certain events that occurred on the world scene. He implied, for example that an earthquake in India was the direct result of a fart he let in Olympia while watching the evening news.”
Now, back to Fred Crisman, and what if any interactions he actually had with the Servants of Awareness. Let’s first examine the drug angle. We do know that, according to a police reports, Crisman was arrested on March 19, 1957 for drunk driving and disorderly conduct, at which time it was discovered he was also under the influence of barbiturates. According to his arrest report, Crisman pulled a gun on the arresting officer. Not smart!
Due to this incident, Crisman was fired from his job as the Superintendent of Schools in Elgin, Oregon. 00003 A second arrest occurred in October 1968, when he was arrested for reckless driving and carrying a concealed weapon.
By 1963, Crisman was employed as a substitute teacher at Mount Rainer High School, a time period that would later become the focus of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, who examined Crisman’s alleged role as one of the three mystery tramps apparently up to no good in Dealey Plaza. The HSCA ultimately determined that Crisman had an iron clad alibi for that infamous day, November 22, 1963, when JFK was blown away.
In 1964, Crisman landed a full-time teaching gig at Cascade Union High School in Salem, Oregon, a position that lasted a mere two years before he was fired for “forming a secret student organization… Crisman formed the organization and conducted meetings on school premises without authority.” A subsequent school board ruling stated that the “organization is of such a nature that it should not be condoned or authorized to exist in this district.”
The above news article begs the question: Was Crisman recruiting students at Cascade Union into a secret psychedelic saucer cult otherwise known as The Servants of Awareness? Seems like a stretch, perhaps, but Crisman was evidently up to something shady. But wasn’t he always?
Another possibility is that Crisman was recruiting students into some sort of shadowy conservative-minded cabal, as he was active as a right-wing operative during this period, as documented in his mighty tome Murder of a City, written under the non-de-plume of Jon Gold, a pseudonym Crisman also employed for the talk radio show he hosted on station KAYE in Puyallup, just a stone’s throw from Tacoma.
Murder of a City is a good place to sniff for clues about what Crisman was up to during the Servants of Awareness period (1967-1970). I recently acquired a copy of this oh, so rare book, which I soon discovered was self-published by Crisman and his buddy Harold Dahl of Maury Island saucer fame (or infamy). Or at least that appears to have been the case according to a note I discovered in said book.
Murder of a City is a prism to gain insight into Crisman’s strange universe, covering the timeframe he *might* have interacted with the Servants of Awareness, who were located in Olympia, 30 miles from Tacoma. The basic story presented in Murder of a City is that Crisman returned to his hometown of Tacoma in ‘66 or ‘67ish and was horrified at what had become of his formerly fair city that’d been overtaken by the dreaded “City Manager” system that—according to Crisman—was a racket for local politicians to line their pockets under the guise of “urban renewal.”
Murder of a City comes across as an extended bitch session in grievance politics, reading like spin and projection (i.e. Crisman blaming others for himself being a shady sort of character); an alternative history Crisman most likely concocted to muddy the waters about several seemingly sketchy schemes he’d been involved in with Thomas Beckham.
The spin I’m referring can be detected early on in Murder of a City when Crisman suggests that the fellow who ran the local Tacoma branch of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), was in cahoots with the very same corrupt city officials who—according to Crisman—had made his life a living hell by pushing a “Far Left” agenda that was quickly turning his beloved Tacoma into a Socialist shithole. Crisman, however, fails to mention that the Tacoma BBB had uncovered a slew of fraudulent businesses he had started with his young oddball associate, Tom Beckman. In Murder of a City, Crisman also badmouths a Tacoma News-Times reporter named Edd Jeffers who in the November 1, 1968 edition wrote that:
“In late 1968, Crisman and Thomas Edward Beckham incorporated seven businesses in Olympia according to the police department there.
Among the companies were the Northwest Relief Society, Associated Discount Services, TAB Productions, Inc., Professional Research Bureau and the National Institute of Criminology.”
Murder of a City includes a chapter called “The Big Frame” that may provide a clue as to these claims that Crisman (possibly in cahoots the Servants of Awareness) had been involved in some sort of drug ring.
This “Big Frame” chapter deals with a supposed plot by Crisman’s perceived adversaries: City Manager of Tacoma, David Rowlands, and his cadre of commie confederates that included reporters for the Tacoma News-Times, local law enforcement, and almost all of city government (not to mention the Tacoma Better Business Bureau!) in a scam to set up Crisman and his right wing allies, chief among them a fellow named Marshall Riconosciuto.
Riconosciuto ran a PR firm and had his hand in a number of fly-by-night businesses, one of which entailed the acquisition of a pharmaceutical company (or at least that was Crisman’s account of the story). After acquiring this company—which he renamed Drug Sales West—Riconosciuto mothballed some of the lab equipment that came along with the deal at a warehouse in Tacoma that was subsequently broken into and the lab equipment stolen. This lab equipment—once again according to Crisman—later turned up at a major drug bust, an incident recounted in Murder of a City in which Crisman quotes an article from the Tacoma News-Times concerning a police raid of the “largest amount of LSD that had ever been found on the West Coast.” Unfortunately, Crisman failed to give a date for the drug raid, which makes confirming his claim/article problematic (I haven’t had any luck as of yet), but whatever the case, his position was that this drug raid was part of the “Big Frame,” and that the lab equipment in question had supposedly been used to cook-up this record-breaking haul of LSD.
Crisman, quite naturally, blamed the “Big Frame” on his enemies in city government who were comprised of a contingent of left wingers aided in their efforts by a long-haired hopped-up hippie menace in tandem with the Tacoma chapter of the Black Panthers waging war against a proud faction of Crisman-led right wing zealots whose mission in life was to save Tacoma from the ravages of Socialism, interracial marriage and rampant drug use then sweeping the country!
Below is a photo ripped from the pages of Murder of a City depicting a notorious alleyway where apparently a high volume of drug dealing went on that Crisman (at least according to Crisman) was attempting to expose. What’s peculiar about the photo is that I could find no other mention about this perfidious pool-hall/alleyway mentioned elsewhere in Murder of a City.
Elsewhere in Murder of a City, Crisman claimed that a number of death-threats were made against him by Dave Rowland’s band of thugs, and that on one occasion he was shot at and ran off the road. What’s more, Crisman claimed that the radio station he broadcasted from under his Jon Gold persona had been wiretapped and, in retaliation, Crisman and his cohorts bugged the offices of the City Manager Rowlands as part of an all out war for the soul of the city! That gives you an idea of the tenor and tone of Murder of a City, which can best be described by this observer as a literary “hot mess.”
At the end of the day, I still don’t know what to make of this allegation that Crisman was involved in peddling dope with the Servants of Awareness, and all of these tenuous connections I’ve laid out here ultimately leave us with more questions to ponder than any actual answers.
The search continues…
00001The Sound, the official publication of Cosmic Awareness Communications. Date unknown.
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 acaid 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.
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
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.
Jaffee has been involved in the production of a number of films, including documentaries on the JFK assassination, as well as serving as a technical consultant on Executive Action.
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:
“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…”
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…”
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.
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!
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…”
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.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, although the command staff here at Historia Discordia has no reason to doubt the central thesis presented herein, based–as it is–on evidentiary documentation referenced by Mr. Clutterbuck, not to mention his own personal journey down the sock-puppet filled Rev. Loveshade rabbit hole. – The MGT.
I am writing this article not just as a Discordian, but as an Award Winning Discordian, having been granted the Order of the Pineapple, an award that has been bestowed (dare I say, imposed) on other Discordians including Professor Cramulus, Adam Gorightly, Sondra London, Miley Spears, Pope Hilde, Gypsie Skripto and Princess Unicornia.
The order of the Pineapple was first presented in 1982 by the Ek-Sen-Trik-Uh Cluborguild. Except it wasn’t – which is the problem. It wasn’t invented in ’82, more likely it was invented in 2015. And many of the recipients – Spears, Hilde, Skripto, Unicornia etc – are entirely fictional.
This is just one symptom of the problem that lives very, very deep in current day Discordianism. It is the problem of Reverend Loveshade.
The Loveshade Family Tree
How do you write the history of a serial liar? It doesn’t make sense to simply assemble their lies and present them. Loveshade is a difficult liar because he is a Discordian liar – he is always winking at the camera. Many of the claims he makes are tongue in cheek and ridiculous, but there are certain ‘facts’ that are presented repeatedly. For instance, Loveshade’s involvement in adult film when younger, or his commune, or his persecution by the government—all are consistent moments referenced both seriously and playfully in different places. But why bother? If we can trust anything about Loveshade, it’s that we can rely on him to be a liar.
Loveshade appears to be a member of a large and eclectic community of Discordians, whose brand of Discordianism is liberty driven, owing much to the free love movements of the hippie scene. The community involves a number of young, often related young girls, including some of the above recipients of the Order of the Pineapple. There’s the Spears clan, the Black family, and the Loveshades, and a sprinkling of outsiders. Interactions between what we might call ‘the Loveshade family’ and others tend to be fraught with tension; some on philosophical grounds, some because I can tell you from experience that Loveshade’s adventures in forums and comment sections can be a tad antagonistic, and some because he likes to namedrop.
We can trace Loveshade’s internet history back to somewhere between 1998 and 2000. Loveshade’s mythology often references a bygone figure called Bloodstar/Alien Loveshade. Bloodstar appears real (in some sense), a figure on Geocities around the turn of the millennium. Bloodstar had some interactions with another Geocities user, A.D. Lea.
Between the two, the evolution of the Loveshade family can be seen. Both websites (Bloodstar and Alien Loveshade) have a fixation on copyright and image use that resembles current Loveshade family pages. Both pages pay tribute (including photos) to a model skull referred to as Binky the Wonderskull. Both pages link to the five key beliefs and other writings of Loveshade. A.D. Lea writes about gender in a passage called Gender Genesis – this is now on ‘Alden Loveshade’s’ page, attributed to him.
A.D. Lea also has photos of a Halloween party, some of which appear now on pages run by Alden Loveshade. This involved a kind of spooky tour, with pictures of wizards, wackos and wolfmen. The aforementioned ‘wacko’ is a bearded cleaver wielding maniac named Dr Sinister Craven. The man in that picture will come up again soon. The ‘Wizard’ is also later referenced as ‘The Wizard Lea’. It is a picture many will recognise as the self-portrait of Alden Loveshade. Most pictures are copyright A.D. Lea, but this one is attributed to another person called Dan, who will also come up again.
Bloodstar has another classic Loveshade attribute; he puts forward an interest in nudism, linking to several pages. Those pages often have a focus on selling images of ‘family nudity’. He also shares a ‘self-portrait’–a photoshopped floating head with exaggerated facial hair. The unedited image is commonly used as a self-portrait by Alden Loveshade.
Both A.D. Lea and Bloodstar link to Loveshade’s page at different times, often with the suggestion that it is coming soon – both linked to the Loveshade page as a work in progress. In fact, Bloodstar may even have alluded to creating Reverend Loveshade in his 1998 end of year letter (a tradition Alden Loveshade continues) – I established a Secret Earth Identity this year. I can’t talk about that too much, either.
We can assume A.D Lea and Bloodstar/Alien Loveshade are the same, and that they’re both Reverend Loveshade.
It wouldn’t quite be a Discordian story without dramatic jumps through space and time, but I feel this is a good time to talk about ‘The Biography of Alden Loveshade’ because I will be making references to it from here on, and I want to give credit where due.
The current Loveshade preoccupation of Wiki editing has not made Loveshade (or his ostensible community members ‘Pope Hilde’ and ‘Miley Spears’) many friends. In the SubGenius community in particular, there has been push-back against Miley Spears’ hostile takeover of the Subgenius Fandom Wikia. I’m unclear of the specific details, but around two years ago some members did some digging into Loveshade, and made a host of accusations, and were told to come back with proof.
They did. This PDF documents Loveshade’s court records from 2002 and identifies a few things about those early Geocities pages that I hadn’t spotted — in particular, his use of meta descriptions that seem designed to attract a… questionable community of fans.
“…closer inspection of the HTML shows a trend that becomes all too frequent in Loveshade-related online materials. Meta Descriptions, such as those seen in the screenshot below, containing tags like, ‘pregnant, pics, children, preteens, teenagers,’ and so on.”
I stumbled across this PDF through a series of leads, each more tenuous than the last. This lead—a guy I’d seen fall out with Loveshade on Facebook—was deeply paranoid of me when I introduced myself. Even after I sent a video of myself, clearly stating my name, it didn’t stop his suspicions that I was–or was affiliated with–Loveshade. I have to say, I don’t blame him.
In the end though, he was kind enough to decide to trust me. His name was M. Otis Beard, and he was himself an internet celebrity of a kind, a member of the Ur-Internet Troll association of ‘Kibologists’, and in particular had become a kind of unofficial spokesperson for faking your own death on the internet, something he did in 1999. Beard mentioned ‘the PDF’ offhand, assuming I knew of it, before directing me to a Subgenius group where I could find it.
Around this same time, I received an email from another individual, stating simply:
Heard your asking about Loveshade. I can tell you shit.
This was followed by a completely different document with an aesthetically similar cover. However the title was ‘The Biography of Reverend Loveshade’, and the content was wildly different. Without going into full details, there’s a simple reason for this; the person who sent it to me is Reverend Loveshade and he’s trying to muddy the waters, so that the reaction to the Subgenius document is the same as the current reaction to the whole of the Loveshade saga– ‘this is a weird mess, so I’m just not going to think too hard about it.’ In total, the moral of this second document is as follows – the man you think is Loveshade is framed, the real Loveshade is another person, and all his sock-puppets are real, too.
Like I said, I don’t blame Beard for his paranoia.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
The first notable instances of Loveshade interacting with other Discordians is on a Yahoo group called Illuminatusinnersanctum. His first post is in July of 2001, and he speaks of being invited by user ‘Chezire_Katt’, who seems to have performed several membership runs to gather new users. His last is in 2012, by which point the forum was basically a wasteland of spambots.
This puts Loveshade as a participating member of Illuminatusinnersanctum forum at the time of his reported 2002 arrest by Texas Law Enforecement officials, which allows us to put together a timeline. Further details can be found in the PDF.
On March 19, 2002, Loveshade posts his last message on the Illuminatusinnersanctum forum, after being an incredibly active poster.
‘The Biography of Alden Loveshade’ lists March 29, 2002 as Loveshade’s arrest.
On May 13, 2002, Chezire_Katt mentions that they wonder where Loveshade is.
On Feb 14, 2003, George_W._Bust (could be Loveshade out on bail, or a friend) writes the following message:
Somebody brought up an old message of Reverend Loveshades so I thought I’d better comment.
For those who dont remember him, he used to be a frequent poster here. That was until he was investigated by the FBI and the Secret
Service and arrested on an imaginary charge. He’s currently being held in solitary confinement.
He’s been threatened many times with arrest because of his fights for freedom. Now that fundamental American freedoms are being
threatened in the name of security, we are all vulnerable.
His writings can be found on many web sites. Please read the first one below at least. It has suggestions for what you can do. Don’t bother emailing him now. He has no way to respond.
We are hopeful that the Rev will soon be released. Remember his words when he said:
“Don’t wait for your grandchildren to ask you why you watched fundamental American freedoms being stripped away and did nothing.”
Loveshade’s sentencing date is April 12, 2003.
Suddenly, on October the 18th, 2005, Loveshade reappears:
As Mark Twain once said, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m back!
I’d like to clarify several things, but I won’t because other people are involved and everything is yet to be resolved. And frankly, I’m still a little scared myself (for a while, I was scared as hell). A lot of what I write is B.S., but the rest of this is as true as I can make it.
I and some of my associates were a part of a national investigation in the U.S.A. which may have extended internationally, we aren’t sure. This began not too long after Sept. 11, 2001. Part of that investigation, and perhaps only a small part, was an attempt to learn the true identity of the Discordian “BloodStar,” who still remains in “hiding,” and of “Reverend Loveshade.”
As I have no reason to want to pin down my “true” identity, I’ll leave it at this:
* we were investigated for a number of “crimes,” many having to do with freedom of speech. As one of our group is on the edge of having the last charge dismissed, I don’t want to go into details
* there were almost certainly bugs planted, and informants for government agencies planted as well (some of this was well done, and some was so clumsily handled as to be almost laughable)
* one of us was held for months in solitary confinement
* several of us were threatened by citizens/government agencies/police officers
* there were several searches conducted in various parts of the U.S.A.
* the work (writings, photos, etc.) of many of us were seized (including writings of some people who posted to this site, some of whom are likely still unaware of the investigations)
* at least two people who posted to this site were questioned in person by the authorities (we suspect more)
* at least a dozen agencies in the U.S.A. were involved in the investigation, including the FBI (we don’t have official documentation that the Secret Service was involved, and at this point their involvement seems doubtful. But an attorney said it appeared quite probable that a then-prominent person in the federal
government was our “enemy”)
* not a single agency found a single thing that agency identified as being illegal–except for a small-town police department. (Note that the “evidence” from this local cop was turned over to various agencies including the FBI, which had it for almost a year–after that cop held it for two years–before admitting they found nothing illegal).
As to posting “jokes” about Sept. 11, some of the postings almost certainly were a part of the investigation. Fortunately, some investigators had enough brains to realize the postings were jokes before more people who posted here were questioned.
Be careful what you kid about in a public forum; be careful what you take photos of (you never know what contemporary community standards are out there); be careful what you write in fiction that someone might think is true; and be careful claiming that the government is a bigger threat to freedom than terrorists–especially if they are.
So the timeline is consistent. Loveshade was investigated, arrested, found guilty, went to jail, and came out again, to resume his online Discordian career where he left off.
Co-opting Wikis For Fun and Profit
One oft repeated piece of mythology is a variation of this: ‘Loveshade married a 15 year old girl to three grooms and everyone was naked.’ The truth of that matter is that a bunch of people had a goofy conversation in chat in November 2001. Loveshade has tendency to exaggerate the innocuous and downplay the serious. But there’s some things to note. One is that one of the three grooms, Danacasso, is known to Alden in the real world. Remember the Wizard photo? On his website, Alden attributes it to the photographer’s real name; on Facebook he attributes it to Danacasso. I contacted Danacasso, but received no reply.
Not so notable, but interesting to see, are Loveshade’s interactions with Shereed Volva on Illuminatusinnersanctum. There’s no speculation here – Shereed Volva, the editor of an edition of Discordian Open Source periodical ‘Intermittens’ outed himself as Loveshade, and gleefully pointed out that his name was an anagram for Reverend Loveshade. So when you see Volva and Loveshade interact remember – this is a man conversing with his own sockpuppet account.
One of Loveshade’s goals, in both Discordianism and Church of the Subgenius, is to rewrite the history of both to his liking. There’s a few tools he’s used to achieve these ends. The absolute control of basically all Discordian and SubGenius wikis is one. (The simplicity of this is almost admirable. Disused wikis lie around everywhere, waiting to be infiltrated with a sock army.) Another is presenting things as rumour from a sockpuppet, followed by a kind of smirking not-quite-denial from Loveshade. This is the method he’s used to suggest that he may be the child of Robert Anton Wilson’s murdered child Luna Wilson (it goes without saying, but no). And the final, most ambitious, is the wholesale construction of historical figures.
Richard Marshall. Gypsie Skripto. Mike Quinn ‘The MGT’. All historical figures. All bullshit.
Here’s the rule for working out if it’s a Loveshade sockpuppet. Can you draw lines between one verified human and another? If not, it’s a puppet. And the same is true of these ‘historical figures.’ There’s no evidence for Gypsie’s existence, outside of being a construction of Greg Hill in the 4th Edition afterword of the Principia Discordia. There’s no evidence of Mike Quinn/The MGT existing outside of the character created by Robert Anton Wilson. And the proof of Richard Marshall is that an obituary exists for a James Richard Marshall… but the links to Discordians? Nada.
One strategy Loveshade used to create these characters is through the purchase of the website kerrythornley.com, run under the pseudonym ‘Johnny Shellburn’ (the protagonist from Kerry Thornley’s Idle Warriors). Apart from all of the other painfully obvious clues I managed to avoid seeing at the time, I realised this connection when interviewing Shellburn for my book Chasing Eris, and my email bounced, delivering this message:
Your mail message to the following address(es) could not be delivered. This is a permanent error. Please verify the addresses and try again. If you are still having difficulty sending mail to these addresses, please contact
Customer Support at 480-624-2500.
184.108.40.206 failed after I sent the message.
Remote host said: 554 Message not allowed – [PH01] Email not accepted for policy reasons. Please visit http://postmaster.yahoo.com/errors/postmaster-27.html 
The site exists to put ‘Shellburn’ in contact with seekers who he can baffle with bullshit. It also exists to muddy the waters of fact and fiction. Sondra London’s entirely credible interview with Kerry Thornley sits beside Richard Marshall’s fake interview with ‘Pope Hilde’. Possibly credible letters from Thornley sit alongside Thornley’s ‘Order of the Pineapple award.’
A Sea of Sock-Puppets
A few years ago, in a moment of astonishingly bad judgement, I agreed to do an interview with ‘Alden Loveshade’ for Yahoo News. (At the time, I regarded Reverend Loveshade as simply a troll, and Alden Loveshade as a separate person.) That news story never happened, and Alden instead, under the name ‘Johnny Shellburn,’ used my interview in his history-rewriting edition of Intermittens. In particular, he contrasted my entirely true allegations that ‘Gypsie Skripto’ and ‘Richard Marshall’ are bullshit, against his own evidence that they existed. It’s not enough for Loveshade to be able to make his own sandcastles in the sandpit – anyone who points out that the castles are made from sand must be punished.
Here’s another one: Reverend Loveshade developed a strong disagreement with a latter day Discordian who I refer to in my book Chasing Eris by the name ‘Smith’. Loveshade chased Smith around with a series of sock-puppets, and when Smith insulted Miley Spears, Loveshade looked up Smith’s address and mailed him cease and desist letter to demand a retraction for Smith’s supposedly defamatory statements. Then, in another scheme using sock-puppets, Loveshade tried to further entangle Smith into his web by posting in multiple places a lengthy conspiracy theory that he and Smith were the same person.
While googling Chasing Eris one day (vanity, darling), I discovered a website I hadn’t created called chasingeris.com. It had a decidedly Loveshadian look to it. Panicking, I contacted the webmaster to request they state clearly that they had no official connection to me, and to my great surprise they offered to transfer me the site. Phew! The owner then made a massive song and dance about how their name was a secret.
Now we’ll ask you a big favor. For me to do the transfer and for you to pay $30 into my paypal account, I’ll have to give you my real name. PLEASE don’t give this out. When you see my name, you may understand why. Or not.
Who am I.
Their first name was one that Loveshade commonly claims is his real name. Their surname was Smith’s real-life surname. I believe Loveshade was leaving breadcrumbs towards the theory that he and Smith were somehow connected. In fact, many of his schemes seem based on leaving little clues for internet detectives, surnames, anagrams, numbers, etc. It must be hard to be a big-brain genius that nobody appreciates.
Remember the trick to telling a human from a sock-puppet? A line between one flesh and blood human to another? I’ve only seen this twice – One between Alden and Daniel/Danacasso. The other is Alden and Doctor Sinister Craven.
Remember that Halloween party where many of Loveshade’s pictures come from? There’s a man with an evil grin and a meat-cleaver. He is the only person on that page that I’ve seen reappear over and over. He uses his real name, not Craven, however I won’t repeat it here. You’ve seen it though if you’ve viewed Loveshades’ blog – one clueless real human making comments in a sea of sock-puppets.
I bring up Craven because of what I’ve seen on his Facebook page. He writes a lot of poetry for Melissa Spears who is perhaps catfishing him, and has had disagreements online with members of the Loveshade clan. Craven posts online to say that his psychologist is telling him there is no such person as Melissa Spears, and Loveshade alts rush to contradict him. Alden warns Craven that MU Spears, who is defending Melissa’s honour, is a trained killer from the military. Bob Black scoffs at Craven, saying MU Spears could break his arm with his little finger. Of course, the Blacks, the Spears, the Loveshades; they’re all Alden.
Craven is not well, and Loveshade is using his army of sock-puppets to harass, threaten, gas-light and perhaps cat-fish him all at the same time.
It Gets Darker
By far the most creeped out I felt in the great Loveshade atrocity exhibition was in perusing the diary of Lorien Loveshade aka Princess Unicornia (but really, again, who cares – they’re all one person). Lorien’s diary, incidentally, is where scepticism about Loveshade’s sock-puppet army goes to die. Forget the ice-bucket challenge, forget the bird-box challenge, it’s time for the Loveshade challenge.
1. Spend 5 – 10 minutes perusing Lorien Loveshade’s page.
2. Look somebody in the eyes.
3. Repeat these words; “It’s totally plausible that this is the website of a 30 year old woman with a career in education.”
You just can’t do it.
The ‘Biography of Alden Loveshade’ covers this page quite well:
Lorien Loveshade is a webpage which began in 2005, presenting itself as that of an 18-year-old girl’s online diary, sharing intimate details of her life from pre pubescences forward, while simultaneously being heavily steeped in discussions of a sexual nature–Essentially erotic fiction geared towards pedophiles.
But this only gives a rough outline of the whole thing, and while I don’t want to be grotesque for the sake of it, I do want to give a sense of what’s there.
The diary entries are divided into three sections – preteen, teen and adult.
These diary entries include two preteen stories that are deeply uncomfortable to read. One is of a ten year old Lorien having her first tongue kiss while having her bottom fondled. Another is of a young Lorien having a fun day on the internet playing on chat with a stranger encouraging her and her friend to strip and touch each other (fortunately, that is not what happens).
There’s a narrative at play here. Compare to the story behind Miley Spears, or some of Lorien’s more vivacious friends. Lorien has been fondled, tongue kissed, exposed to internet perverts, visited the set of a porn shoot, and as a result? Has remained pure and virginal well past the legal age of consent. Miley Spears however was protected by her parents from sex, and as a result, had sex very early. Not only does exposure to sex apparently not harm a child, it actually is really good for them!
We don’t need to guess at this worldview – ‘Lorien’ spells it out for us in an article tastefully titled ‘Teen Sex.’
“One of my best friends was raised extremely strictly. Her father wouldn’t let her have email because he thought the Internet was a bad influence. She couldn’t even use it at school. He spied on her, searched her bedroom, called to check on her wherever she went, and wouldn’t let her go to parties unless it was all girls or there were a lot of adults there.
One day when she was 14, school was cancelled because of a teacher’s conference. She didn’t tell her parents school was closed that day. She left just like she always did. But she met her secret boyfriend near her school, then he took her somewhere and they had sex. All her father’s spying and trying to protect her meant nothing.”
We could get more examples from Alden’s various ‘community members’, but why bother? It’s there in black and white, for all to see, again, and again, and again.
It’s weird because, in case you forgot, NONE OF THESE PEOPLE EXIST. They are the creations of a 62 year old man who is writing the great American weirdo novel for people who aren’t allowed within 500 metres of schools or public parks.
But I’m sorry to say, dear reader, it gets darker. In 2013 Lorien’s diary went private. Alas, that doesn’t mean that ‘she’ took it offline like a normal person. If you access her diary in the conventional way, you’ll see mostly normal text titles, with a few hyperlinks that take you to stories, and a few hyperlinks that ask you to log in. Diary entry My and Beckys 14th b-day slumber party! Mar 15 2002 asks you to log in. So does the opinion piece I’M A VIRGIN AT A PORN SHOOT.
At http://lorien.loveshade.org/diary_public/special.html, the story is different. Every single diary entry is a hyperlink, and most invite the reader to log in. I’ve spent hours upon hours on Loveshade’s pages this week, and honestly don’t even remember how I found that this separate page existed, and was just fortunate to find it in again in my Internet history. My guess is that there’s some secret path in one of the many pages of utter crap. [My friends > Becky > Becky’s Mom’s Dog > Diary] or something. But the links on Lorien’s main page do not direct you to this page. It is hidden.
Who gets to log in? What do you think is on the other side of that login page? How do you get the login? Probably by sending a message to Lorien via the email ‘she’ puts on the front of her website. As stated on ‘her’ opinions page: “IF YOU WANT TO PRIVATE FILES, SEE SOME OF MY SEND ME A REQUEST EMAIL! MY ADDY IS ON MY HOMEPAGE”.
When a man who sees a diary filled with a young girl’s sexually charged experiences emails another man who fantasizes about young girls what happens? What do they talk about? What do they send each other? What plans do they make?
When All Else Fails Go Look At Goats
Very soon I will offer you a link to a funny goat compilation to shake off some of the worst vibes of this utterly horrible mess. But let’s go over it again.
Reverend Loveshade was arrested in 2002 for Obscene Wholesale Promotion. (Source: ‘The Biography of Alden Loveshade’)
Runs a massive sock-puppet army which essentially have full control over the SubGenius and Discordian wikis.
Actively constructs historical figures out of whole cloth and develops elaborate schemes to try to have them accepted as historical fact.
Runs ‘Lorien Loveshade’s Diary’ which contains a hidden page where all entries are accessible to persons who have obtained log-in credentials.
In 2017, Roldo came out with a new and improved version of Goetia that was published by Bathtub Books, and which apparently sold like hot cakes (or hot dogs) and is no longer available in its corporeal form.
That being the case, Roldo recently released this Bathtub Books PDF version of Goetia for your possible downloading pleasure!
In 2015, a somewhat amusing bio of yours truly was posted at Discordia Wikia that is almost 23 percent accurate and presumably written by someone identified as Miley Spears, who in reality is a sock puppet of a self-styled Discordian named Reverend Loveshade who—it appears—has not only created this Miley Spears persona, but also a number of other phony Discordian characters such as Pope Hilde, Gypsie Skripto, not to mention a certain Johnny Shellburn (the same name of the protagonist in Kerry Thornley’s Idle Warriors) who operates KerryThornley.com where you can find an imaginary interview conducted by the aforementioned Pope Hilde with a supposed early Discordian named Richard Marshall who also probably never existed—or at least never existed in the sense that the interview suggests.
Richard Marshall—it so happens—also has a Discordia Wikia page which is also probably 23 percent accurate (at best!) although there actually was a real Richard Marshall who lived in San Francisco during the same period as Discordian Society co-founder Greg Hill, although none of the real Early Discordians I’ve talked to have ever heard of the guy.
According to Richard Marshall’s Discordia Wikia page (written by Miley Spears), Marshall contributed to Principia Discordia and The Illuminatus! Trilogy although I’ve never come across anything in the Discordian Archives to even remotely suggest that these claims have the slightest relation to reality or that Marshall ever knew Greg Hill or Robert Anton Wilson or Kerry Thornley—let alone Michael Arthur Quinn (aka The Midget) who is another imaginary character (based on an Illuminatus! character) apparently cooked up (once again) by Rev. Loveshade, who—it should be noted—also has a Discordia Wikia page submitted by (you guessed it!) Miley Spears, who—as previously noted—is actually the one and only Rev. Loveshade. In other words, the whole thing is a giant sock puppet circle jerk perpetrated by somebody with a lot of spare time on their hands.
In 1970s—according to Loveshade— his mother was purportedly friends with Robert Anton Wilson’s daughter and because of this Loveshade and his hippie mom became acquainted with Wilson, who he affectionately referred to as ‘Grandbob’ and along the way Loveshade “became obsessed with meeting the original Discordians” and that inspired him to (supposedly) track down Greg Hill in the 1990s at a San Francisco watering hole, an account of which appeared in Loveshade’s Ek-sen-trik-kuh Discordia: The Tales of Shamlicht.
Some might suggest that a shaggy dog story about meeting Greg Hill is perfectly acceptable from an Operation Mindfuck standpoint, as a form of pranking and modern myth making. On the one hand—being a card carrying Discordian—I can appreciate this type of culture jamming. On the other hand—with Historia Discordia and related projects — I’ve taken seriously the task of chronicling, as accurately as possible, the early days of the Discordian Society and its influence on the 1960s counterculture and onward. So when imaginary sources create imaginary history, it certainly leads us down a slippery slope.
In 2012, I was contacted by an enterprising Australian lad named Brenton Clutterbuck (which totally sounds like another made up name, but no he’s an actual dude) who informed me that he was working on a book project about modern day Discordianism entitled Chasing Eris.
While discussing with Clutterbuck different latter-day Discordians during a 2012 midnight Skype session, he informed me that as part of his Chasing Eris project he was planning a tour of the U.S. to interview prominent Discordians, including someone going by the name of Gypsie Skripto who had been introduced to him by Johnny Shellburn of KerryThornley.com, who—as previously noted—is another one of Loveshade’s alter egos.
Using the email address given to him by “Johnny Shellburn,” Brenton started a correspondence with Gypsie Skripto, who claimed that she had been friends with Greg Hill and part of the early Discordian scene in San Fran in the 1970s. In response, I told Brenton that I thought someone was yanking his chain, that the Gypsie Skripto in Greg Hill’s Principia Discordia afterword was an obvious literary construct, and that this person posing as Gypsie Skripto had basically co-opted Hill’s imaginary character as a way to troll the internet and create phony Discordian street cred.
Ultimately, Brenton’s planned meeting with Gypsie Skripto in Austin, Texas failed to materialize when she stood him up, using the pretext that she had to attend some last minute political activist hippie rally fundraiser (or some-such) and Brenton soon came to the realization that I was correct in my assumption that “Gypsie Skripto” was just one among a host of other spurious Discordian sock puppets courtesy of Rev. Loveshade.
With all this in mind, we’ll soon have a post up from Mr. Brenton Clutterbuck himself regarding his take on adventures with the Rev. Loveshade and his various sock puppets.
Our last entry recounted Rev. Broshears’ association with Jim Garrison’s investigation, and what Garrison called “Odd Sects” (not to be confused with “odd sex”!) that included a cast of characters scattered not only across JFK assassination lore, but also the funky field of ufology.
Ufology—for those not in the know—is the study of flying saucers, and the spacemen (or spacewomen) who flew in them. As good a place as any to start tugging on this Broshears-UFO thread is with Fred Crisman, who as noted in past installments was (allegedly) one of the three mystery tramps (apparently up to no good) picked up in Dealey Plaza following the JFK’s assassination. But long before Kennedy’s assassination was but a gleam in his eye, Crisman—along with a buddy named Harold Dahl—gained notoriety (or infamy, as the case may be) for their involvement in the Maury Island UFO Incident.
Before traveling back in time to Maury Island, we should acknowledge Kenneth Arnolds’ sighting of “nine gleaming objects” over Mt. Rainer in Washington State on June 24, 1947, an incident that essentially launched the Modern Era of UFOs. An experienced pilot with over 9,000 hours of flight time, Arnold’s sighting added an air of seeming legitimacy to what was considered, at the time, the playing field of crackpots and hoaxers. Not long after his seminal sighting, Arnold became acquainted with Ray Palmer, publisher of the science fiction pulp magazine Amazing Stories, which featured not only the standard sci-fi fare, but also Richard Shaver’s supposedly non-fiction accounts of encounters with diabolical subterranean creatures called Deros who first appeared in his story, “I Remember Lemuria.”
In July of ’47, Palmer received a cigar box filled with “flying saucer fragments” mailed to him from two men in Tacoma, Washington: Fred Crisman and Harold Dahl. Needless to say, Palmer was a tad dubious about these “flying saucer fragments,” as he’d previously corresponded with Crisman a year earlier. At that time, Crisman claimed that during World War II he and another soldier engaged in a firefight with the some Deros in a cavern in Burma at which time his fellow soldier had been shot with a ray gun that left a dime sized hole in his hand. But that wasn’t all: Crisman offered to travel to a cave in Texas to recover some ancient Dero machinery if Palmer was willing to pony up $500 for expenses. Palmer wisely declined Crisman’s come-on. Not sure what to do with the box of “flying saucer fragments,” Palmer enlisted Kenneth Arnold to investigate what would become known in the annals of ufology as the Maury Island Incident.
On July 29, Arnold flew to Tacoma and his first order of business was to find a hotel room for his stay. After calling around to the cheaper hotels and having no luck securing a room, Arnold phoned the most expensive hotel in town, the Winthrop, and was informed by the desk clerk that there was already a room reserved in his name. When Arnold informed the clerk he hadn’t made a reservation—and that it was probably another person by the same name—he was told that the reservation was indeed booked for a Mr. Kenneth Arnold of Boise, Idaho. Later that day, Arnold interviewed Dahl and Crisman, and this was the story they shared…
On June 21, Dahl (a timber salvage worker/harbor patrolman) was out on his boat on the eastern bay of Maury Island along with his teen-age son and dog when “six large donut-shaped machines” appeared in the sky. One of the ships began laboring when another of its companion craft descended and touched the laboring donut ship as if to repair it, after which it “spewed out” molten fragments—later referred to as “slag”—that rained down on Dahl’s workboat, killing his poor pooch and severely scorching his son’s arm. After ejecting slag spew, the craft rejoined its fellow donut ships and zoomed away. Dahl gathered up some of the slag fragments and returned to the harbor to give his supervisor the lowdown. Dahl’s “supervisor” was Fred Crisman.
Uncertain as to the veracity of Crisman and Dahl’s claims, Arnold called in his friend, Captain E.J. Smith (Big Smithy)—a pilot with United Airlines—to assist in the investigation. On the evening of July 30, Arnold received a phone call from UPI reporter Ted Morello, who said he’d received information from some “crackpot” who repeated a full account of Arnold’s investigation up to that point. This led Arnold to suspect his hotel room had been bugged, and that his reservation surreptitiously arranged so that his activities could be monitored. Throughout his investigation, Arnold attempted to keep it on the down-low, and the only ones privy to his activities were Palmer, Big Smithy, Crisman, and Dahl. Because of this, Arnold grew to suspect that Ted Morello had been tipped off by either Crisman or Dahl in an attempt to promote their story. Concerned he was being set up by a couple of confidence men, Arnold placed a call to Air Force Lt. Frank Brown and Captain William Davidson inviting them to join the investigation. The officers accepted Arnold’s invite and flew to Tacoma that same day, but after questioning Crisman and Dahl, they apparently were unimpressed by the men’s story.
Crisman and Dahl invited the Air Force officers to a boat trip to Maury Island, but Brown and Davidson declined, stating they had to return to California early the next morning. As a parting gift, the officers were given a box of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes filled with slag fragments. Arnold and Big Smithy, however, agreed to the Maury Island trip, which ultimately turned out to be a bust. According to Dahl and Crisman, their “patrol boat” had been severely damaged by the slag that had rained down, but when Arnold and Big Smithy examined the vessel there were no signs it’d been damaged, or recently repaired; nor was there any indication of it actually being a patrol boat, and it appeared totally unseaworthy. Unsurprisingly, Crisman and Dahl were unable to start the engine of the boat, which seemed like a convenient excuse to cancel the outing.
Shortly after take-off from McChord Field in Tacoma—in the early hours of August 1, 1947—the B-52 transporting officers Brown and Davidson caught fire and went down in flames, killing both men. The next afternoon, the Tacoma Times featured a curious headline: SABOTAGE HINTED IN CRASH OF ARMY BOMBER AT KELSO. The article reported that the B-52 “had been sabotaged ‘or shot down’ to prevent shipment of flying disc fragments…” and “that the ill-fated craft had been carrying ‘classified material.’” One can assume that Crisman had a hand in spinning this tale, which—if such was the case—seemed like a tasteless PR stunt. To this end, many suspect that Crisman cooked up the Maury Island caper, the intent of which was to sell it to Ray Palmer and cash in on the sudden saucer-craze sweeping the nation. This would support the theory that Crisman, under an assumed identity, contacted reporter Morello to leak details of Arnold’s investigation, and that Arnold’s hotel room had not actually been bugged—it was simply Crisman (affecting an anonymous identity) repeating conversations he’d had with Arnold.
In the aftermath of the B-52 crash, Ted Morello contacted Arnold and Big Smithy telling them he’d received another phone call from an anonymous tipster who informed him that the B-52 had been shot out of the sky.00001 Morello’s source added that, immediately following the crash, Crisman had been reactivated for military duty and assigned to Alaska, which suggested the Feds swooped in and spirited him away as a means of quashing further Maury Island inquiries.
Before leaving Tacoma, Big Smithy contacted an Army intelligence officer stationed at McChord Field named Major George Sanders, who met with Arnold and Big Smithy and informed them that the B-52 crash had been an accident, and not the result of sabotage.00002 Sanders then drove the men to a local steel mill to show them a smelter which he believed was the source of the supposedly otherworldly slag.
On Arnold’s flight home, the apparent veil of doom hanging over this episode reared its head when he lost power to the engine of his plane. Fortunately, Arnold was able to land safely in Boise, although afterwards he needed a change of undergarments. Shaken by these events, Arnold dropped the Maury Island case, as he felt no conclusive evidence had emerged during his investigation, as well the suspicion that Crisman and Dahl had been trying to pull a fast one.
A few days after Arnold left Tacoma, Crisman and Dahl visited the local FBI office claiming they had no clue about anything related to Maury Island or a saucer sighting there.00003 Crisman and Dahl’s story was that they’d discovered fragments of what they believed might have been flying saucer, then afterwards sent them to a lab at the University of Chicago for analysis. Somewhere along the way—according to Crisman and Dahl—Ray Palmer learned about the slag and contacted them, which in turn led to Kenneth Arnold’s involvement with the case.
The deeper one delves into the Maury Island Incident, the more conflicting stories emerge, which is to be expected when you have an apparent flimflam man like Crisman involved, as demonstrated in this New York Times story from August 10, 1947.
After the dust (or slag) had settled, Project Sign investigators determined that the Maury Island Incident was a hoax, and at one point the Air Force considered filing charges against Crisman and Dahl. Crisman sent a letter to Fate Magazine in January 1950 denying he’d perpetrated a hoax or that he bore any responsibility for the deaths of the two Air Force officers.00004
Contrary to popular legend, Crisman hadn’t actually been spirited away to Alaska immediately following the Maury Island caper, although he had been called up for active duty in the Korean War in 1951 and assigned overseas as a P-51 fighter pilot. According to researcher Mike Sylwester: “[Crisman] suffered a great deal from a premonition he would be killed, and he was reassigned to fly transport flights between Korea and Japan. Eventually, he began to suffer such anxiety that he was hospitalized in Japan. He began to abuse tranquilizers during this period…”00005
In 1953, Crisman separated from the military, leaving with the rank of reserve major. That same year he became a high school teacher in Elgin, Oregon, and then later, in 1956, the Superintendent of Schools in Huntington, Oregon.
Crisman became “involved in the UFO fringe with Frank Stranges and Wayne Aho” in 1958.00006
That same year, in an issue of Ray Palmer’s Flying Saucer magazine, Crisman (using the pseudonym of Eldon Everett) wrote in to the letters section to recount his Maury Island yarn, in addition to other saucer encounters he’d supposedly experienced in the ensuing years. Also in 1958, Crisman was arrested for drunk driving and disorderly conduct, at which time it was discovered he was under the influence of barbiturates. Due to this incident, Crisman was fired from his teaching job. According to Mike Sylwester: ”[Crisman] aggravated this situation [with the police] by making strange remarks, such as that he had a metal plate in his head.” Following his firing from the teaching job, Crisman worked for a couple years at Boeing Aircraft as a “personnel representative.”
In the mid 1960s, Crisman was joined in his flying saucer hobby by the one and only Thomas Edward Beckham, a colorful and criminally inclined character introduced in Part 00002 of this series.
In his testimony before the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in 1978, Beckham stated that “Crisman had been a CIA agent and he had worked on a thing called Project Bluebook…”
Crisman claimed it was Harold Dahl who first introduced him to Tom Beckham, which differed from Beckham’s account, who said he was living in Olympia, Washington, in late 1964 when he came across a magazine ad for membership with a “Parapsychology Association” operated by Crisman. Afterwards, Beckham traveled to Tacoma to meet with Crisman and the two men became partners in a wide range of dubious activities. During this same period, Crisman re-entered the teaching profession with a job at Cascade Union High School in Salem, Oregon, a position that lasted only two years before he was fired for “forming a secret student organization… Crisman formed the organization and conducted meetings on school premises without authority.” A school board ruling stated that the “organization is of such a nature that it should not be condoned or authorized to exist in this district.”
After his dismissal from Cascade Union High School, Crisman began a career as what some have described as a right-wing propagandist employed by the Riconosciuto Marketing Agency. Crisman’s job description included speech writing and PR for conservative politicians in the Tacoma area, activities that overlapped with a daily radio show Crisman hosted, using the alias of Jon Gold, on radio station KAYE. At the time—according to certain accounts—Crisman was involved in spreading political propaganda, which he presented as an anti-corruption campaign waged against local government. Crisman’s version of events was later recounted in Murder of a City… Tacoma (1970), authored by Crisman under his Jon Gold pseudonym. The book blurb for Murder of the City… Tacoma reads:
“Fred L. Crisman, known to his radio and television audiences as Jon Gold… born in Tacoma… was swept up in the battle of political philosophy that now rages in that city… Naming himself a Liberal Democrat, he has been classified as a Far Right extremist… He denies being anything but what he is, a sincere man, dedicated to seeing the return of decent, honest, representative government to his home town. His planned broadcasts of political propaganda were never… other than… propaganda. (A) conspiracy… worked to bar him from the airwaves…”
Murder of the City… Tacoma is quite rare, so I haven’t been able as of yet to lay my hands on a copy, but an industrious researcher named Jeff Suwak has been posting about the book here.
One of the players involved in the Murder of a City saga was Crisman’s boss, Marshall Riconosciuto, the father of Michael Riconosciuto (aka “Danger Man”), a scientific whiz kid who referred to Crisman as his “mentor.” In the early 1980s, Riconosciuto was involved with a secret version of the Promis software a la the Inslaw affair, all part of an elaborate conspiracy laid out in The Octopus: Secret Government and the Death of Danny Casolaro.
In the Martinsburg, West Virginia, hotel room where Casolaro allegedly committed suicide in August of 1991, notes were discovered that mentioned “MJ 12—extraterrestrial,” and “Area #51.” The source of Casolaro’s UFO info was Michael Riconosciuto, who also alleged that Fred Crisman had hoaxed the Maury Island Incident to cover up a radioactive liquid metal that had been sprayed over Maury Island by Boeing Aircraft as part of a secret experiment. As previously noted, Crisman worked at Boeing in the late 1950s/early 1960s, and due to this association conspiracy researchers have connected Boeing and Crisman as agents of the dastardly military-industrial complex that also allegedly had a hand in the JFK assassination dance party.
More saucer news! On August 12, 1967, Fred Crisman and Thomas Beckham organized the “First Midwest UFO Conference” in Omaha, Nebraska, although Crisman was a no-show for the event.00007 That same year, Crisman appeared at the “Northwest UFO Space Convention” in Seattle where he recounted the Maury Island Incident and claimed that he possessed photos of the slag spewing donut ships, but for whatever reasons decided not to present them, nor have these photos ever surfaced, if indeed they ever existed (which of course they probably didn’t).
In early 1968, Crisman (using the pseudonym of Fred Lee) wrote to Lucius Farish of the Parapsychology Research Group, stating that, “Mr. Crisman is probably the most informed man in the United States on UFOs and also one of the hardest to find—as the FBI has learned several times!”00008
Researcher Mike Sylwester interviewed Crisman’s son, Fred Lee Crisman, Jr., who informed him that: “In the last weeks of his life, [Fred Crisman] was at home reading a book about alien abductions, and he suddenly passed out because of kidney failure. When he regained consciousness, he was in an intensive care ward, hooked up to a lot of hospital equipment and surrounded by personnel in masks and gowns. For a few moments, [Crisman] wondered if he himself had been abducted on to a spaceship…”00009 Crisman, at one time or another, claimed that the character of David Vincent, portrayed by Roy Thinnes in the ‘60s TV series The Invaders, was based on his life.
Another odd UFO twist in the Crisman saga was his association with a group called the “Servants of Awareness” that nowadays goes by the name “Cosmic Awareness Communications.” According to JFK assassination researcher Joan Mellen: “By 1968 Crisman would be investigated for narcotics activity in connection with… [the] Servants of Awareness.”00010 In the late 1980s, I became aware of this group courtesy of Tim Cridland’s Off The Deep End zine that featured, on occasion, Cosmic Awareness Communications broadsides and advertisements, such as the kooky one below.
Although there’s no evidence that Rev. Broshears ever met Crisman in the flesh, he corresponded, on occasion, with Thomas Beckham. Beckham, Crisman and Broshears were acquaintances of the Reverend (or Dr., depending on how he wished to present himself) Frank Stranges, author of Stranger At The Pentagon, the story of Venusian Captain “Valiant Thor.” According to Stranges, after Val Thor had met with the President and members of the Joint Chiefs, he had a meeting with Stranges at the Pentagon.
Stranges was director of the National Investigations Committee on Unidentified Flying Objects (NICUFO), a group he started after being kicked out of the more well-known and quasi-respectable National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP).
In addition to his saucer activities, Stranges was President of the International Theological Seminary of California, which appears basically to have been a diploma mill he cooked up. To this end, Stranges was famous for bestowing titles upon himself, including the prestigious FBI Gold Medal, which in reality was also a totally made up award. Stranges’ supposed association with the FBI drew the ire of the Secretary of NICAP, Richard Hall, who contacted the Feds on April 27, 1962, as documented in the letter below:
According to an FBI memoranda dated May 3, 1962:
“…a review of the enclosed material indicates that allegations against Dr. Stranges pertain to a period in August and October, 1960. In October, 1960, the Seattle Office conducted an investigation concerning Dr. Stranges after information was received that he was implying that he was at that time or previously connected with the FBI. During the investigation no one was located who had actually heard Dr. Stranges make any such allegation although it was generally conceded that he had left a number of people with such an impression. Dr. Stranges is an evangelist. Based on his background, numerous addresses and organizations which he has had and the fact he claims to have talked to an individual from the planet Venus, it appears he may be also something of a confidence man…”
Rev. Broshears hosted a number of UFO events at which Stranges appeared as guest speaker, such as this following promoted in Broshears’ Light and Understanding from November, 1968.
That same year, Stranges assumed leadership of a “religious organization” formerly overseen by Rev. Broshears called The Council of New Age Churches (CNAC). It’s not clear what CNAC was about, but some of Broshears correspondence suggests it never really amounted to much, but was yet another title that Stranges could add to his ever expanding rolodex of fake titles.
Crisman and Beckham likewise ran a number of dicey diploma mills, and it was from one such that Dr. Stranges earned a Ph.D. from the National Institute of Criminology, a title listed on the back cover of The Stranger from the Pentagon.
Although Stranges presented himself as a pseudo law enforcement official, there’s no indication he was ever on the right side of the law, and on many occasions found himself leaning more towards the dark side. In 1972, an aircraft with a bent propeller attempted to take off from Thermal, California. Besides the pilot, the only other person on board was Rev. Stranges. Police found about 400 pounds of marijuana in the plane. Stranges was convicted of attempting to transport an illegal substance and sentenced to eight months in prison and three years probation.
In 1974, Stranges hosted the “8th Annual UFO Space and Science International Convention” in Anaheim, California, advertising William Shatner, astronaut James Irwin, and U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers as featured speakers. All said they had either refused, cancelled, or never heard of Rev. Stranges.
Another of Broshears’ ufological allies was Rev. Robert Short, for whom Broshears organized an event at the Los Altos Public Library chronicled in a July 9, 1968 Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram entitled “Outer Space Chef Tosses Bewildering Salad.” Staff writer Frank Anderson described Short as:
…an outer space chef, [who] cut some green cheese from the moon, mixed it with horse radish and served it up on flying saucers…
Billed as a lecturer of unidentified flying objects, Short confined most of his remarks to communiqués from extra-terrestrial sources which have been published in the Solar Space Letter of his Solar Space Foundation at Joshua Tree.
The audience of 30 persons appeared mystified by it all, for the knowledge by Short flew by faster than the cafeteria line at a tape worms’ convention.
Short was introduced by Rev. Raymond Broshears, pastor of the sponsoring Church of God of Light. After some Hawaiian music, the lecture began with Short telling his audience how outer space beings tune in on earthlings.
It’s done, he said, by means of a resotron, a device that fits on the head like a hair-dryer and immediately translates earthlings thoughts and language into super space intelligence.
Having cleared up this awesome technology, Short read some documents, the substance of which is that the United Nations just isn’t interested in UFOs and “please stop writing to this office.”
Next came the slides. The first one purported to be outer space lights seen through pink clouds—but if you thought it was a slice of liver left too long in the hot sun, you wouldn’t be far off the mark.
This was followed by what appeared to be a human eyeball the day after New Year’s—or an under-fried egg.
Short —perspiring freely in his royal blue turtleneck, dark blue blazer and canary yellow slacks—got the next slide in upside down and backwards. But his apology was wasted—the audience didn’t know the difference…
Pity the poor Martian trying to decode Monday night’s proceedings on his resotron. He’ll think he blew a fuse.
Like a number of UFO contactees, Rev. Short channeled Commander Ashtar and by the mid-1950s (under the non-de-plume of Bill Rose) started an organization called “Ashtar Command” to monetize his otherworldly communications. Rev. Short and his spunky wife Shirley operate the Blue Rose Ministry out of their home in Cornville, Arizona, and publish The Solar Space Newsletter where “You can learn the mystic connection between the Hopi’s, the Pope’s and the UFO’s!” For many years, the Shorts were familiar figures on the flying saucer lecture circuit where the good reverend was usually more than happy (for a free will love offering of around $20 or so) to put on eye shades and perform psychic readings courtesy of Ashtar or Korton or whatever entity was possessing his vocal chords at the time. As my friend Greg Bishop recalled:
At the International UFO Congress in 2004, Bob Short set up a TV tray in the merch room (because he couldn’t afford a table) and gave psychic readings. I gave him $20 and he gave me a $20 performance. He went into a trance and began to spout extreme generalities which could apply to almost anyone. I was not very helpful with any feedback to lead him, so he continued in this vein. It was a fun session, mainly because I just wanted to help him out with a few bucks and see how good he might be. I recorded the session, but mistakenly recorded over it with a bootleg recording of a Hasil Adkins concert.
Thanks to Greg Bishop for assistance with portions of this article, some of which were ripped from the pages of our recently released “A” is for Adamski: The Golden Age of the UFO Contactees (Available now in a Black & White version or a Full Color version).
I’ve compiled a hot mess of Maury Island files, FOI and otherwise, here.
On August 25, 1965, Poland staged a “Nude Wade-in” along with compatriots Ina Saslow and Shirley Einseidel at Aquatic Park in San Francisco. The “Nude Wade-in”—as you might have guessed—was exactly that: the three of them wading naked into a public pool to the shock and amazement of other wide-eyed waders. If that wasn’t enough, in May 1968 at the Fillmore West, Poland orchestrated a public sex orgy in cahoots with the Diggers.
In 1970, Poland founded the Psychedelic Venus Church with bisexual Navy submariner and Vietnam vet, Brian Traynor (aka “Mother Boats”). The official sacrament of the Psychedelic Venus Church was marijuana “…and, after lighting up, at each meeting a woman was chosen to be Venus. At the beginning of services, she was placed on an altar, candles were lit on each side of her, and her vulva was smeared with honey. Each of the males (and some women if so inclined) at the meeting licked the woman’s vulva in order to honor the goddess Venus. Then the orgy began in earnest…” Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_Freedom_League
The Psychedelic Venus Church had amassed 700 members before disbanding in 1973. One of these members was our Discordian co-founder Greg Hill, although it’s doubtful Hill ever partook of the divine sacrament in a group orgy setting. However, he did receive his very own membership card.
In June of 1971, Poland was attempting to start a collective known as the World Council of Psychedelic Churches, which he was encouraging the Discordian Society to join.
The Hill-Poland correspondence included the group’s newsletter, Intercourse, as well as this index card suggesting Poland, or someone in the Psychedelic Venus Church, was dealing acid at one time or another.
Poland, it so happens, had a general physical resemblance to Discordian Society co-founder Kerry Thornley, especially in his younger adulthood. There were other parallels as well:
* Like Thornley, Poland was both highly intelligent and deeply disturbed, spent most of his life living in voluntary poverty, and had *boundary issues* when it came to sexuality (he molested a preteen girl in San Diego during the 1980s, and earned jail time and Sex Offender status for that act.)
* Like Thornley, he operated under *noms de guerre* for his communications. In his last years in San Francisco he called himself “Tortuga Bi-Liberty”; earlier he’d used such monikers as “Tahanga” (“naked” in Maori) and “Jomo Kabouter.”
* Like Thornley, he spent much of his life publishing crude broadsides and zines to publicize sexual/body freedom and other causes he advocated.
* Like Thornley, he founded his own half-serious Goddess-centric religion: The Psychedelic Venus Church, an early neo-Pagan sect that used cannabis as a sacrament, and held nude orgiastic rites among Bay Area hippies.
* Not sure if the two ever met in real life, but they have a connection: Richard Thorne, a ranking member of the East Bay Sexual Freedom League, was a close associate of Poland’s. Thorne, as readers may recall, called himself “OM” and led nude parades through the streets of Berkeley and San Francisco, which earned him Discordian Pope status and a story in the SF CHRONICLE.
Mike Marinacci is the author of CALIFORNIA JESUS, WEIRD CALIFORNIA, and other books about fringe culture and history. He is currently working on a biography of Jeff Poland.