Teaser for more videos and interviews to come
from the RAW Day July 23, 2017 extravaganza.
Teaser for more videos and interviews to come
Plucked from the ye olde Untamed Dimensions podcast archives, a Radio GoGo with Adam Gorightly rebroadcast presentation of an illuminating episode covering the many interesting idiosyncrasies and synchronicities of Discordian co-founder Kerry Thornley with guests Allen Greenfield and Synchronos23.
Of all the Principia Discordia knock-offs I’ve seen over the years, I would submit that this version stands out above all the rest, and if you’re a Principia Discordia aficionado this version is certainly a gem to add to one’s collection—whether you understand a lick of Portuguese or not.
I asked the Penumbra Livros publisher—a fellow named Vinicius—to tell story of how this PD came to be:
“It all started with a stolen Steve Jackson Principia Discordia. My wife stole it years ago from a former boyfriend and kept it in the bottom of a dusty old box. I have heard about PD before, but for me it was sort of like the Necronomicon—one of those books you hear a lot about, but possibly never existed, and there are some copies around, but none of them is the real thing. I decided to give it a read anyway. I decided that, real or not, it was profoundly disturbing, which is a good thing. So I went to look for a Portuguese edition, and discovered there were only some PDFs hanging around on the Internet. I took a look at them, and was deeply impressed by the effort the Discordian community (which, until that time, I assumed did not exist) took to translate it. But, having read the original version, I knew many jokes, word plays and puns in general were lost in translations. The idea to produce an “ultimate Brazilian version” clung to my head for a while, but I had other things to do. I did not work with books back then.
“Some time (years?) later, I was working with books about magic, occult, and stuff. I needed to publish some book about alternate religions, and considered The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But the thought of PD came back to my mind. It was going to be a lot of work, with all the images, and lack of high quality sources, and word plays, and it being a sacred text, and all. But I did not give up. My wife was studying Photoshop and all those graphic software packages, and needed to work on a series of fictitious assignments. So she made a King Kong saint image, a fake book cover, a fake flyer for a fake book launch, all that kind of thing for a Brazilian PD that did not exist. I made a little marketing research and found out there are some very active Discordian clusters in Brazil, and quite a few people who are generally curious about it. Which makes a lot of sense, because everyday life in Brazil is quite surreal at times, and some degree of Discordianism seems to be in everyone’s blood, regardless of people knowing or not about it. That got me excited about making it happen. So I gave the PD a ‘go.’
“Since every major edition of the PD adds some new pages to it (Loompanics/SJ/etc), and there are many active Discordians here, we decided to add some pages of original content. We opened up for public submissions. We got some shitty material, but in the end managed to filter out about 10 very good pages. We also made an effort to guarantee those new pages were not exactly in the spirit of the older PDs, but were representative of the current zeitgeist and the life we live in our country.
“The art adaptations were complicated, but feasible. But some translations were really tough. We looked a lot to other sources of information, such as Historia Discordia (and, of course, the Goddess) to find enlightenment. It came in most cases. In some cases, in which things were completely untranslatable, such as the thinking cow on p. 00028, we just threw a similar joke, which would make sense for the reader. The songs and rhymes were tricky too but I guess we made it without major casualties. The whole process, nevertheless, took a few months longer than originally predicted.
“When the book was sent to the printers, we had trouble making them understand page numbers were inverted (odd pages on the left, even pages on the right). We had to sign a document telling them they were not screwing up. The launch event was funny too. We picked a cool bar to do the event, and the owner of the place, knowing what the book was about, did not believe many people would come. In the end, the place was crowded, and the owner had to work in the kitchen, and had to call his father to help him (none of the employees were willing to show up on such a short notice on a Sunday). That was a good sign. And there were hot dogs for everyone.
“We received some curious orders via our e-commerce. One of them asked for a side order of a hot dog, a singing Rabbi and five tons of flax. Other asked for a ‘no thanks.’ Many orders contained cryptic messages about the Illuminati and Pelé (the soccer player).
“Before the book hit the bookstores, we carefully hid some PDs on major bookstores and instructed our Facebook followers that the books were gifts for the first ones who could locate them and gather the courage to leave a bookstore with a new book out of the front door. Technically that is not stealing—we, the publishers, are giving the book away—but it certainly did mix people’s feelings. All hidden books were found after about two days.
“Now PD is on all main Brazilian bookstores, and there is yet another funny thing about it. Shelf placement. Some bookstores place it on the Greek mythology shelf, some on comics, some on biographies, some on young adults, some on self-improvement, some on political sciences. And honestly, I have no idea where they should place it. Maybe it should be close to the Bible, the Quran, or the Torah. But on a higher shelf, closer to eye height. Who knows?”
Keep Calm and Ewige Blumenkraft.
Had I only known (when I talked to him a couple months ago) that Adam Curtis was working on a project about the dreaded Illuminati, I most certainly would have interrogated him on the matter! What other secrets is he concealing???
According to Judith Mackrell in the April 21, 2017 edition of The Guardian:
“Against a rising tide of fake news and conspiracy theories, choreographer Rosie Kay and film-maker Adam Curtis have found a timely subject for their new collaboration, MK Ultra. Splicing together documentary footage and a pumped-up stream of dance and music, this two-hour work tells the story of how a generation of under-25s have come to believe in the Illuminati, a shadowy cult they say is attempting world domination through mass brainwashing.
“According to popular myth, the cult operates by grooming targeted individuals to become celebrities, using pop stars such as Britney Spears to disseminate the cult’s agenda through the content of their songs and videos. MK Ultra is an exceptionally stylish production. Illuminati imagery percolates through every aspect of its design, from the pyramid-shaped film screen to the arcane symbols that decorate the seven dancers’ costumes.
“Curtis’s documentary uses a characteristically sophisticated blend of contemporary interview and archive footage to narrate the rise of the Illuminati myth, while Kay’s choreography portrays a group of dancers who have apparently been signed up to the Illuminati programme, drilling themselves for stardom through a relentlessly competitive (and cleverly parodic) regime of twerking, urban, sexy moves.”
Before proceeding, I thought a short recap was in order.
Roger Robert Lovin was born in Knoxville, Tennessee on May 11, 1941—although there’s conflicting evidence which suggests that his birth name was actually Watlington, and that he later legally changed his name to Lovin. (More on that kink in the thread later…)
According to the bio page of Lovin’s Sci-Fi novel Apostle, he was “a minister of the Gospel at age 16,” although I certainly wouldn’t take Lovin at his word for that—but on the same hand I could totally see him doing the whole Marjoe Gortner teen preacher trip as a young lad growing up in Tennessee.
The first verifiable documentation we have on Lovin dates to 1962 when he was drummed out of Navy for stealing “a television set from a Naval Ammunition Depot in North Charleston, S.C.” Lovin later admitted to assassination researcher Harold Weisberg that he’d been “kicked out of the Navy for a homosexual offense.” Afterwards, Lovin moved to the New Orleans’ French Quarter and cultivated the image of a bohemian renaissance man who—at one time or another—was a performing musician, painter, writer, and all around raconteur. Lovin also claimed to be a soldier of fortune who had smuggled guns into Cuba.
Lovin managed a coffee house/art gallery in the French Quarter where he’d occasionally stage happenings and—as the beatnik scene segued into the hippie era—he adopted all the trappings of the times, growing long hair and dabbling in psychedelics and free love whenever the opportunity availed itself, which as we’ll soon see was frequently and in great abundance.
Lovin was married for roughly three years to a woman named Sandra Bankson, who I really haven’t found out a whole lot about, other than she was employed as a professional dancer.
In-and-around 1964 or 1965, Lovin became friends with Greg Hill and Kerry Thornley and—along with bohemian scene maker Barbara Reid—was one of the early members of the New Orleans’ Discordian Society, and after Hill and Thornley split New Orleans, Lovin became the official head of the Discordian Society’s French Quarter cabal.
Due to his Discordian connections, Lovin came to the attention of Jim Garrison as a potential suspect in his investigation. Lovin passed along some Discordian materials to Garrison via Harold Weisberg and—probably due to this—Garrison came to suspect that the Discordian Society was a CIA front involved in JFK’s assassination!
In 1968, Lovin started the first New Orleans alternative newspaper, The Ungarbled Word, which pretty much brings us up to speed… So away we go!
Jean Marie Stine (then known as Henry Stine, prior to changing gender identity) first encountered Lovin in New Orleans in early 1969. When Lovin learned that Stine was the author of Season of The Witch, he was exuberant with praise for the book, overwhelming Stine with his intensity and charm. A short time later, Stine heard that Lovin was the editor/publisher of The Ungarbled Word and made an appointment to discuss a writing gig.
After arriving at the scheduled time at Lovin’s French Quarter office, Stine was informed by Lovin’s secretary that, although Roger was in, he might be delayed a bit as he was presently ‘busy’ with a young woman there seeking a job. Lovin—the secretary explained—was quite the accomplished pick-up artist who successfully scored with every woman he ever hit on, and—due to the fact he inevitably hit on every attractive woman who crossed his path—it was likely that he and the young lady were having sex in his office at that very moment. An hour later, Lovin came out with the girl on his arm, and afterwards during their meeting confirmed that indeed he’d been doing the ol’ bump-and-grind while Stine waited patiently outside.
One night—while Stine and Lovin were making the rounds of various French Quarter bars—the subject of Jim Garrison came up and Lovin revealed that Garrison and his investigators were trying to build some sort of sketchy case against him using doctored evidence which included a photo that had been touched-up to make Lovin more resemble another suspect in the case.
Oddly enough, this scenario is strikingly similar to what occurred to Kerry Thornley when Harold Weisberg (using Garrison’s official District Attorney stationary) contracted a California artist to touch-up a photo of Thornley to make him more resemble Lee Harvey Oswald and bolster the theory that Thornley was one of the notorious Oswald doubles. When I mentioned this to Stine, she was quite taken aback and insured me that she wasn’t confusing or conflating the Thornley photo touch-up caper with what had occurred to Lovin, and that these were two separate incidents.
Early in 1969, a bookkeeper working for Lovin ran off with The Ungarbled Word proceeds. In order to keep things afloat, Lovin resorted to selling a stake in the paper to a couple of local characters who not long afterwards attempted a hostile take-over. Part of the plan of these interlopers was to install pre-gender-transition Hank Stine as the new editor/publisher, but when Stine clued Lovin into this planned coup, Roger immediately withdrew whatever Ungarbled Word funds were in the bank and along with Stine, and another writer named Alice Ramirez, (author of The Geek), the three high-tailed it out of town, eventually making their way to Los Angeles.
Shortly after arriving in L.A.—as Stine recalled—Lovin was literally starving, and to keep three square meals coming his way each day, he sweet-talked three waitresses (from three different restaurants) into bringing him food. One of the waitresses worked the morning shift; another work the afternoon shift; and a third, the night shift. And so—according to Stine—each brought meals to Lovin at different times—morning, noon and night—and, of course, Lovin would have sex with each of them during their visits.
A couple years later, Stine recalled visiting Lovin at his Hollywood apartment and was amazed to see a large chart Lovin had put up on the wall to keep track of all the women he was seeing, a system devised to schedule his revolving door of lovers. There have been some online estimates that Lovin bedded down somewhere in the area of around two thousand women. However, Jean Marie Stine suspects it was probably a far larger number, more in the range of ten thousand… and we’re not even talking about the under aged ones yet!
If there was ever someone destined to write a 1970s “How To Pick Up Chicks” book, it would have been Lovin. And who knows, he very well might have (under a pseudonym). During his Hollywood days (1969-1973), Lovin worked in the smut industry as an editor for American Arts, which had several different imprints, and it was through one such imprint he published his novel Eleven (1970), which included this cover blurb: “Eleven by Roger Lovin is an unnatural twist on the Lolita syndrome, the story of the love affair between a three-hundred-pound man and an eleven year old girl, a grotesque situation which Lovin handles with understanding…”
At the time—as Stine recalled during our recent interview—none of Lovin’s friends suspected he had a thing for underage girls, and most assumed Eleven was simply just his spin on a taboo subject. Later, it would become evident that the roots of Eleven were much more than a mere fictional flight of fancy and had real world implications.
In 1974, Little, Brown and Company published Lovin’s opus, The Complete Motorcycle Nomad.
Released as a Sports Illustrated selection of the month, it’s still considered by many motorcycle enthusiasts as a classic in the field.
My first inkling of Lovin’s illegal activities came by way of a news clipping (I’d stumbled upon in the Discordian Archives) from the science fiction fanzine Locus, the gist of which stated that Lovin had been arrested on “four counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, four counts of aggravated crime against nature, one count of carnal knowledge of a juvenile, and three counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile…” Lovin had been “released on $2,500 bond after being charged Oct.22  with possession of pornography…”
At the time, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of these allegations. Nor did I have any other background on Lovin, so it was hard to know how deeply he was really into any of this, or if it was simply an isolated incident of showing pornography to some kids, or perhaps an instance of poor judgment in regards to having sex with an underage girl.
My curiosity about Lovin persisted over the years, and when I’d occasionally stumble upon some item related to him in the Discordian Archives, it would inevitably lead to a web search. About ten years ago or so I happened upon this thread at ancestry.com where a woman—who suspected Lovin was her biological father—was seeking further information on him. The thread (from 2005) consists of around thirty entries, many from people who claimed to have known Lovin, some of whom said he had gone to prison for pedophilia.
A post from someone claiming to be Lovin’s sister (going by the name of “Freewind143”) stated that she and her other family members “were never made aware” of any criminal charges against her brother, and that Roger had been sterile and never fathered any children. Freewind143 noted that he “died in New Orleans on November 1, 1991.” Along with her post, Freewind143 shared a photo of Lovin with two of his sisters. The photo did indeed appear to be Roger Lovin—probably in his mid-to-late 40s—which would have put the timeframe the picture was taken around the mid-to-late 1980s.
My friend Tim Cridland (aka Zamora the Torture King) has been of immense help in untangling this twisted Roger Lovin web… a web which still may have a few tangles in it yet! Tim, like me, possesses an unnatural interest in many odd and arcane tributaries, and the people who inhabit many of these strange lanes, such as the colorful French Quarter characters associated with the New Orleans Discordian Society, including Kerry Thornley, Barbara Reid and Roger Lovin. In his role of Zamora, Tim travels around the world performing feats of wonder, and on his off hours often haunts local libraries and other repositories of ancient knowledge. While in New Orleans last year, Tim was able to lay his hands on some Roger Lovin related news clippings which provided further confirmation that Lovin had indeed been arrested and charged with the crimes mentioned in the Locus article.
According to October 25, 1979 edition of the Baton Rouge States-Times Advocate, “A self-styled preacher and part-time writer has been arrested in a raid at his apartment where thousands of pornographic pictures of young girls were seized….[Police information officer] Gus Krinke said the photographs depicted nude and partially nude girls, sometimes involved in sexual acts. He said most of the girls were runaways, but others came from fatherless homes in New Orleans… police said Lovin’s apartment was equipped with a darkroom enabling the film to be developed and printed there… Some of the girls may have posed for Lovin, officers said, after he convinced their mothers he simply wanted them for models.”
The October 25, 1979 New Orleans Times-Picayune stated that—following Lovin’s arrest—the police were “conducting a massive search for the identities of as many as 500 young girls who are believed to have been intimately involved with a man arrested here for possession of pornography” and that “Lovin may have been involved in a pornography network which stretches across the country… Lovin found many of his subjects by attending young people’s functions… police have proof he lured one of more of his victims away from a recent science fiction convention.” The article went on to state that Lovin was “originally from Tennessee” and “legally changed his name from Watlington to Lovin.”
According to the October 26, 1979 edition of the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
One woman who took his course on “Writing for Kids” at the University of New Orleans, said he was an excellent teacher who never missed class.
“He was a very smooth talker,“ the woman remembered. “he gave the impression of being a very intellectual type person.
“He seemed to be a devil-may-care type of bachelor. But he was very balanced.”
The woman added, however, that it was obvious he wasn’t a run-of-the-mill type of person.
“Some of the things he said were a little strange,” she remembered. “But I wasn’t offended. Some of the older ladies were a little bit offended by his choice of words, but it was never anything serious.”
The former student said she wasn’t shocked when she heard the news, but was surprised that he could lead such a dual life.
“I got friendly with the man,” she said. “He didn’t seem like an absolute pervert. He just wasn’t like that.
“He made it clear several times that he wished he was in bed instead of in class because he had had too much to drink the night before. But he was always there.”
According to Jean Marie Stine, at the time of Lovin’s arrest he lived in an apartment complex at 1112 N. Rampart St., and in a room across the hall lived a friend of Lovin’s who was an illegal arms dealer—which brings legendary Science Fiction author Norman Spinrad briefly into the story. Spinrad—also friends with Lovin—took a cross country trip with him in the mid 1970s, and part of their travels included a stop-over in the French Quarter. It was there that Spinrad was introduced to Lovin’s neighbor (the guy with all the guns) and this fellow took Spinrad for a ride up in the woods where he demonstrated some sort of rocket launcher, which completely blew Spinrad’s mind. Anyway, this same fellow was later raided by the cops for unregistered firearms. During the raid—when Lovin attempted to intervene on behalf of his friend—the officers told him to back off, pushing Roger back into his own apartment, where they observed photos of nude young women (and very young girls) posted on the walls. In short order, the cops got a warrant and raided Lovin’s apartment, leading to his arrest.
To friends, Lovin presented his side of the story that, yes, he’d had sex with underage girls, many that were runaways from broken homes home to whom he’d provided shelter and a warm bed, and without his ‘guidance’ they would have been out on the streets hustling sex for drugs or money. Lovin further insisted that he had taken these wayward youth under his wing with the consent of their parents, who were well aware of his sexual proclivities. During this period, Lovin was passing himself off as a “minister” of some sort, which might have been yet another ploy he used to ingratiate himself with both the parents and their children. Most of these parents were the girl’s mothers, who Lovin presumably charmed with his notorious silver tongue.
Newspaper reports and other accounts I’ve come across alleged that some of the girl’s parents had given Lovin permission to use them as photographic ‘models.’ After Lovin’s arrest, police detectives tracked down a number of these parents and pressured them into signing a criminal complaint against Lovin or face being charged with child endangerment.
Another spin Lovin put on the story was that his arrest had been orchestrated to cover-up a deeper NOLA scandal related to government officials caught having sex with underage boys. The intent of this cover up—according to Lovin—was to create a media distraction while behind the scenes the officials were let off the hook with minor offenses, the details of which were buried in the back pages while Lovin’s arrest was the front page news.
Jean Marie Stine felt there might have been some measure of truth to Lovin’s conspiracy theory. At the time, Stine was living in Baton Rouge and remembered reading the initial news reports about this government-officials-in-bed-with-boys-scandal, but then suddenly it all but disappeared from the front pages and was apparently swept under the rug at the exact time Lovin was facing his own legal kerfuffle.
According to Stine, the story became ever more tangled after Lovin’s trial, which should come as no surprise given Louisiana’s long history of political corruption. As it turns out, Lovin never actually served time in prison, but was in lock-up at the city jail for a period of time awaiting sentencing. According to Stine’s sources, an anonymous Lovin supporter—who suspected that Lovin would probably never make it out the Louisiana prison system in one piece—offered a sizable sum to the judge presiding over the case in the form of a “political contribution.”
The judge—as the story goes—was seeking an office in a higher court, which was apparently an elected position, and ultimately the “contribution” was accepted. These negotiations took place over the course of several months, and in the meantime Lovin’s stay in city jail—while not as bad as prison—was no cake walk, either. In fact, the first few weeks proved to be pretty rough, until one day when he was approached by a member of the Louisiana chapter of the Hell’s Angels. As it turned out, the Angels were big fans of Lovin’s The Complete Motorcycle Nomad and—after discovering that HE was THE “Roger Lovin”— let him know they “had his back” and from that point forward nobody messed with Lovin during the rest of his stint in jail.
When all was said and done, Lovin was granted a suspended sentence, which consisted of something in the area of five years probation. The terms of the probation dictated that he could neither leave New Orleans nor have any contact with juveniles. Lovin managed to stay on the straight and narrow for the court-ordered term, and after his probation ended—somewhere in the mid-to-late 1980s—he started making frequent trips to Belize where he could have sex with underage girls and not worry about the consequences. According to Jean Marie Stine, Lovin eventually ended up living fulltime in Belize and the last she heard was that he’d died sometime in the early 1990s.
A while back, Tim Cridland came across Lovin’s Social Security number on an old FBI memo. When Tim ran it through the online Social Security Death Index, it come up with no results for Roger Lovin… or any one named Watlington, for that matter. Tim hunted for death notices and obits in the Louisiana newspapers—as well as searching local cemetery records—but was unable to find any confirmation of Lovin’s death. The only thing definitive we had in that regard was the statement by “Freewind143” (on the Ancestry.com forum) who claimed that her brother had “died on November 1, 1991.”
However, some of Freewind143’s other comments didn’t quite jibe with the known facts, including her claim that neither she nor other family members were aware of criminal charges. Freewind143 also noted that “Roger Lovin” was her brother’s real name, which contradicts the NOLA newspaper articles that reported Lovin had been born with the last name of Watlington and later legally changed it to Lovin. Lovin first mentioned his name change to Clarence Doucet of the New Orleans Times-Picayune in a January 13, 1974 interview. An October 25, 1979 article in the Times-Picayune confirmed that “Records show Lovin is originally from Tennessee. He had his name legally changed from Watlington to Lovin.”
Given these discrepancies, Tim started entertaining the notion that perhaps Lovin had never actually died. I also began to suspect that Tim might be on to something, and that “Freewind143” may have been intentionally muddying the waters. Going out even further on this limb, the thought entered my mind that maybe Roger Lovin himself was posting as Freewind143!
Freewind143 noted that her brother had been sterile, this in response to the woman on the thread who was trying to figure out if Lovin was her biological father. Assuming Lovin had already changed his name once before, I began to wonder if this was yet another instance of creating a new identity to distance himself from the past, and that Lovin’s move to Belize was also part of this disappearing act.
Like her brother, Freewind143 is a writer, and using the pen name of “Freewind Gingerblaze” has authored three fantasy titles.
Freewind’s books could be considered in Lovin’s literary wheelhouse, as he was an author of one Science Fiction title, Apostle, and had written a couple more Sci-Fi/Fantasy manuscripts that were never published. Could these “Freewind Gingerblaze” titles have been the previously unpublished Lovin novels?
Another web search revealed that Freewind Gingerblaze’s real name is Molly Bressette, formerly Molly Annis Lovin. (On the Ancestry thread, Freewind143 noted that some of her family members call her Ann because her middle name is Annis.)
Of course these findagrave.com entries could have been easily fabricated, but it seems like a lot of effort to go through (concocting an entire family tree) unless someone was really intent on faking their own death. Not that I wouldn’t put it past Mr. Lovin, who always seemed to have something up his sleeve. With all that being said, I’d wager that the name change switcheroo—from Watlington to Lovin—may have been Lovin pulling the leg of reporter Clarence Doucet back in 1974, and later this name change story was repeated (without fact-checking) during the Times-Picayune’s reportage of Lovin’s arrest in the fall of 1979. Just the same, it certainly seems curious that Freewind143—and other Lovin family members—“were never made aware” of her brother’s criminal history.
Thanks again to Tim Cridland for his invaluable contributions to this craziest of all stories. Check out Tim’s Off The Deep End blog for more related madness, including his evolving series on Rev. Raymond Broshears.
Also, check out my interview with Jean Marie Stine about Roger Lovin embedded into this web page below, or, you can listen on your preferred new fangled whatever SoundCloud podcast harvester via my new podcast show called Radio Gogo with Adam Gorightly.
Follow me on SoundCloud, you’ll deliciously regret it!
Also, Millennials, share with your parents via Facebook, Instagram, whatever is hip now, they desperately want to understand what you’re into, so throw them a curve-ball that will not only educate but also confuse them!
And lastly, you can download the Lovin Files (for supporting documentation) here.
As anyone who frequents this site is well aware (or has bought my books—yes, please buy my books!), Garrison targeted Kerry Thornley as part of a supposed sinister assassination cabal centered in the New Orleans’s French Quarter. The key witness against Thornley—in this regard—was Early (and squirrelly) Discordian Barbara Reid, who most likely imagined or confabulated or conflated her claims against Thornley as a means to launch herself into Garrison’s orbit.
In his March 1969 column in The Ungarbled Word (the underground French Quarter newspaper Lovin published), he wrote this about Reid:
“Prominent among Garrison’s self proclaimed informers is one Barbara Reid… a self-proclaimed witch who maintains a “Voodoo” altar in her French Quarter home. She has a long history of two-faced dealings, and has been known to sell information in return for “favors.” She is, she claims, Jim’s ear in the quarter…”
Weisberg for awhile was hooked at the hip with Barbara Reid, and it was Reid who no doubt steered Weisberg in Lovin’s direction. Part of their suspicions concerned Lovin’s association with an outfit called the Modern Language Institute that apparently held occasional meetings at the Ryder Coffee House, a beatnik hangout promoting integration and free speech which we talked about in our first installment of this series.
The Ryder Coffee House was a meeting place for all manner of groups, primarily left leaning bohemian types, however its doors we’re open to all, which explains the presence there of the Modern Language Institute (MLI), an organization affiliated with anti-Castro Cubans and other right wingers—or perhaps these right wing elements had infiltrated the MLI, possibly using it as a front organization, or as a means of recruitment into clandestine anti-Castro (possibly CIA funded) activities… I know, it gets deep. And a lot of the information surrounding all of this is ancient and murky. But hang with me.
It was Garrison’s contention (ala Weisberg and Reid) that Lovin and Thornley had attended meetings of the MLI at Ryder Coffee House along with the MLI’s manager, an anti-Castro Cuban named Arnesto Rodriquez. (In some of Weisberg’s memos, he even suggests that Lovin managed the Ryder Coffee House at one point during this period.)
In regards to the MLI, Garrison was all over the notion that anti-Castro elements had been part of a JFK assassination hit team in cahoots with rogue CIA agents and that the likes of Arnesto Rodriguez and Kerry Thornley and Roger Lovin were all wrapped up in these alleged clandestine activities and that MLI served as some sort of cover for covert operations. I tend to doubt there’s much to these theories—at least in relation to Thornley and Lovin—but as anyone knows who has looked into this arcane history, nothing is cut-and-dried, and both Thornley and Lovin indeed had some curious connections with many of the shadowy figures who inhabited the French Quarter during those wild and wooly days. Whether, ultimately, these connections had any direct bearing on JFK assassination conspirators is still a matter of vast conjecture and conspiratorial fodder.
Harold Weisberg described Lovin as a “beatnik-type painter from Slidell, LA… who had run guns to Cuba for profit.” Weisberg was informed by Arnesto Rodriguez that he “was moving his school [Modern Language Institute] from across 6th street at the end of July 1963 and early August, that [Rodriguez] did not immediately finish up the back room, and that he agreed to a Lovin proposition that, in return for fixing it up, Lovin be given the use of the space for a studio. Arnesto says that on an unexpected return to the suite on a Sunday he found a naked Lovin convorting [sic] with a naked girl and thereupon terminated the arrangement for the space…”
As we learn more about Lovin, this anecdote is perhaps the first instance (in this series) of pulling back a curtain that will reveal much more about his veracious sexual appetite.
According to another memo by Harold Weisberg:
“LOVIN was connected with an organization known as Services Unlimited, care of the Bourbon House Bar in New Orleans, La. The Organization will allegedly do anything for money: i.e., fly a plane, steal property, paint a house, surveil individuals…Lovin claims to have been in jail in the state of Georgia for smuggling arms to Fidel Castro in the Sierra Mountains of Cuba prior to 1959. Source advised LOVIN claims to have done smuggling for FIDEL CASTRO in 1958 for a few weeks, but is not known to have returned since that time. He is allegedly now anti-Castro.”
In regards to the charge that Lovin was running guns, this claim apparently came from Lovin himself, and scant evidence exists to support this allegation, other than the real possibility that Lovin made it all up to create an aura around himself as that of a secret agent renaissance man who dabbled in the arts and literature on one hand while at the same time working as a soldier of fortune engaged in covert activities. On the other hand, it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that Lovin might have been involved in clandestine capers, as he was indeed a man of many talents, some of which pushed the envelope toward criminality. Just the same, the so-called “Services Unlimited” yarn seems somewhat far-fetched, and sounds like something Lovin might have cooked up over beers at the Bourbon House one night with his friends.
There was also the allegation (once again courtesy of the Harold Weisberg-Barbara Reid tag team) that Lovin and Lee Harvey Oswald had been roommates, this allegation coming (allegedly) from an informant named Bernard Goldsmith. But once again, this sounds like Lovin possibly yanking someone’s chain, or Barbara Reid conflating one thing she heard with another.
The Lovin-related info passed along to the FBI was sourced from a couple interviews Harold Weisberg conducted in 1967 and 1968. According to a Weisberg memo from April 12th, 1968, Lovin admitted that he’d been “kicked out of the Navy for a homosexual offence that he said was isolated but mixed up in another and major case…” This episode might be related to another FBI memo that states: “LOVIN was alleged to have stolen a television set from a Naval Ammunition Depot in North Charleston, S.C. sometime in February 1962.”
In his column from Feb 20th, 1969 edition of The Ungarbled Word, Lovin had this to say about his interactions with Garrison’s investigators:
“I am, and have been, a close friend of Kerry Thornley. Kerry served in the Marine Corps with Lee Oswald, and Garrison contends that he (Thornley) met and had dealings with Oswald here in New Orleans. In the early days of the investigation, during the initial questioning of everybody even vaguely connected with anybody else, I was asked to come answer questions at Garrison’s office. Louis Ivon, one of Garrison’s investigators, informed me that he had information to the effect that I had, 1. Roomed with Oswald, 2. Sold him a rifle, and 3. Was part of the alleged conspiracy.
“I pointed out that, during the time in question, I wasn’t even in the city and could prove it. Ivon didn’t seem to want to hear that. When I offered to submit to a lie detector test, he was also less than anxious to listen.
“Later, I was twice visited by Harold Weisberg, a writer who represented himself as being from Garrison’s office. He made tapes of the two conversations, took my photo scrapbook, and vanished. He was since written two books on the assassination, both of which have been panned by critics as being far from factual. A year ago, Weisberg sent a letter on Garrison’s stationary to Fred Newcomb, an artist requesting that he retouch a picture of Kerry Thornley to make him look more like Oswald. Newcomb sent Weisberg’s request to the D.A., and got an answer declaiming any connection with Weisberg. Bother letters, Weisberg and the D.A.’s were on official stationary, and appeared to have been typed by the same secretary.
“Also last year, a young girl who was a part-time beer salesman on Bourbon St. and who said she was working for Garrison, tried to pump me for information on Oswald. I laughed at her, and she said “You had better talk. We’ve got a case on you and have ways of making you talk.”
As for the scrapbook (taken by Harold Weisberg) that Lovin mentions in his article, this contained, among other stuff, a sheaf of Discordian material that was enough of a head scratcher to get Weisberg imagining that the Discordian Society was somehow part of his JFK assassination conspiracy wet dream, a nutty notion I covered in some depth in a previous article entitled “Was The Discordian Society A CIA Front?”
But, weirdly enough, the JFK assassination wasn’t the only political assassination that Lovin became associated with—however obscurely. According to another odd FBI memo, in 1964 Lovin had taken dance lessons at the Continental Dance Studio in New Orleans—with the intent of becoming a dance instructor himself—and Lovin’s then wife, Sandra Lovin (né Sandra Bankson), was also involved with the studio as an instructor.
The gist of this FBI memo concerned visits to the Continental Dance Studio (also in 1964) by an individual going by the name of Eric Stavros Galt, which—it turns out—was an alias for James Earl Ray, the (alleged and convicted) assassin of Martin Luther King Jr.
Apparently, Ray had used the Galt alias during the period he received his series of dance lessons, and a couple weeks after MLK’s assassination—on April 19, 1968—the Feds tracked down different people associated with the dance studio to learn what they knew about Ray’s activities. To this end, Lovin and others associated with the dance studio (including his wife, Sandra) were questioned, and it doesn’t appear anything too monumental came out of this, other than the fact that the owner of Continental Dance Studios, Marlin C. Myers, did indeed confirm that Ray (under the alias of Galt) had attended some dance lessons there.
This inquiry seemed to be triggered by an earlier interview that Lovin had with Garrison’s investigators, and as they were showing him different photographs, apparently one of the James Earl Ray/Eric Stavros Galt mug shots was passed to him, and though Lovin didn’t recognize the photo, he said the Stavros part of the name sounded familiar, but that he might have been conflating it with a novel he had read. It all gets a bit convoluted, to say the least, but here’s the memo below, if you wish to get even more confused.
Thanks to Tim Cridland (aka Zamora the Torture King) for unearthing a lot of this information and making my head spin trying to explain it all.
COMING SOON: the Final Installment of this Series (at least I think it will be the Final Installment) which will be a bit of shocker to some, [whisper]containing some rather delicate revelations, as well as an audio interview I conducted a while back with Jean Marie Stine who found herself in the thick of a lot of Lovin’s adventures in New Orleans and later in Los Angeles in the early 1970s.[/whisper]
Born Roger Watlington in Knoxville, Tennessee on May 11, 1941, he later changed his name to Roger Lovin which would prove apropos in terms of the footloose and fancy free lifestyle he later adopted.
In the early 1960s, Lovin managed a French Quarter coffee house called The Gryphon, which doubled as a bohemian art gallery and hangout for French Quarter beatniks. In this regard, a curious news article appeared in the Oct 12, 1964 The Times-Picayune about a smoke bomb attack at The Gryphon that caused minor damage and one injury.
It’s unknown if the bombing was in any way directed at Lovin, although that wouldn’t come as a surprise as he was always a somewhat controversial character fond of ruffling the feathers of the squares. However, I suspect this incident may have had something to do with the bohemian clientele that frequented The Gryphon and a certain conservative element in New Orleans that was probably none too thrilled about it. As noted in the news article, a similar smoke bomb attack went down at the Quorum Coffee House (also known as The Quorum Club), another establishment with deep Discordian ties. A Wikipedia entry describes The Quorum as “a coffee house in New Orleans, known as a model for multicultural exchanges in the politically and racially charged atmosphere of the 1960s. It became a frequent target of segregationist harassment in New Orleans after it opened to persons from all racial backgrounds in 1963. In 1964, police raided The Quorum and arrested 73 people on charges such as ‘playing guitars out of tune.’”
Although The Quorum was a multicultural beatnik mecca, Kerry Thornley returned to New Orleans in the summer of 1964 and delivered a decidedly un-beatnik type lecture there on Ayn Rand and Objectivism—but that was typical Thornley: an iconoclast who reveled in tweaking people’s sensibilities on either side of the cultural or political spectrum. It’s also important to note that Kerry’s last meeting with the notorious Gary Kirstein (aka Brother-in-law who supposedly lured him into the JFK assassination) took place on the back patio of The Quorum (cast in creepy shadows) following Kerry’s lecture there that night.
Another Early Discordian, Barbara Reid (the main witness against Kerry in the Jim Garrison fiasco), became known as a “den mother” to a group of hippie kids that hung out at The Quorum, so the Discordian connections ran deep and weird. Apparently, there’s a film documentary about The Quorum called, appropriately enough (yes, you guessed it), The Quorum, which speaks to the influence this coffee house had on French Quarter culture. The website for The Quorum film describes how it was started in 1963 “by an idealistic group of individuals most of whom had met at the Ryder, an earlier, short-lived, racially integrated coffee house on Rampart Street in the New Orleans French Quarter. When the Ryder was shut down by city officials on the pretext of needing the space to construct a hotel, approximately twelve of the former Ryder patrons banded together to establish a similar sort of establishment with a similar purpose….”
As it so happens, the defunct Ryder coffee house (mentioned above) became of interest to Jim Garrison during his JFK assassination investigation as a supposed meeting place where Thornley had met with Lee Harvey Oswald and other suspected diabolical doings went down, which I previously covered in this post. But I digress…
The Quorum and Gryphon smoke bombings occurred during the same period Jim Garrison rolled out a campaign to “clean up” the French Quarter, and the specific targets of this campaign were strip clubs and establishments catering to the homosexual community. This is not to suggest that Garrison was in any way responsible for the smoke bomb caper, but what these events spoke to was the tension and unrest brewing across the cultural landscape, particularly in the French Quarter which had always been a fertile breeding ground for freaks and free spirits to flourish.
This period is covered in Plot Or Politics?: The Garrison Case and Its Cast (1967), authored by award winning New Orleans States-Item reporters Rosemary James and Jack Wardlaw, who covered the Garrison investigation from its very beginnings. Plot Or Politics? also covers, albeit briefly, the rise of Garrison’s political career and provides an intimate snapshot of what was brewing behind the scenes with the Garrison investigation before it became a thing. Plot Or Politics? is also of interest because it devotes a couple pages to none other than Kerry Thornley regarding his interactions with Oswald in the Marines. This section on Thornley is noteworthy because it appeared several months before Garrison painted a target on Thornley’s back.
In regards to Garrison’s campaign against “vice,” pages 21 and 22 of Plot Or Politics? informs the reader that:
Almost as soon as he took office, Garrison took aim at the city’s sin strip—“The Street”, Bourbon Street. Former New Orleans newsman Bill Stuckey recalls:
“Shortly after he became district attorney in 1962, [Garrison] launched a crackdown on homosexuals in New Orleans, raiding ‘gay bars’ frequently, arresting ‘gay kids’ on the streets of the French Quarter. After one such arrest, the New Orleans States-Item sent me to the police station to see what the formal charges were. There, on paper, probably was one of the strangest charges in U.S. legal history: ‘Being a homosexual in an establishment with a liquor license.’ The drive died down after several weeks. One benefit of it may have been the creation of a body of homosexual informants for the district attorney’s office—informants possibly involved in his Kennedy plot investigation.”
It probably appears like I’m once again digressing, but I wanted to lay out the cultural landscape of the period—a culture in which Lovin was knee deep—and the conditions that precipitated the crackdown on the homosexual community, all of which might have attributed to the coffee house smoke bombings, and a cultural sea change which was only then just beginning to make waves…
When Greg Hill and Kerry Thornley moved away from the French Quarter in the mid-60s, they left the New Orleans branch of the Discordian Society in the capably chaotic hands of Mr. Lovin, whom Thornley described in the Illuminet Press intro of Principia Discordia as “a dashing, talented and handsome con artist who was too shallow to settle into any one thing. But for years and years after he read the Principia, under his Discordian name of Fang the Unwashed, he consistently and with unswerving devotion to the task excommunicated every new person any of the rest of us initiated into the Discordian Society.”
Kerry wasn’t just lightly tossing around the assertion that Lovin excommunicated new Discordian initiates, as revealed in this December 2, 1964 letter from Greg Hill (aka Malaclypse the Younger) to pilgrims Judy Gates and Bob Yeager.
The Early Discordians become infamous for these types of humorous letters, and one of the funniest I’ve come across was composed by Lovin dated December 17, 1964, addressed to Greg Hill (who appears to have been staying with Bob Newport in Chicago at the time):
All Hail Discordia!!!!!?!!!!!!!
To: MALACLYPSE (THE YOUNGER), K.C.: OMNIPOTENT POLYFATHER OF VIRGINITY IN GOLD AND HIGH PRIEST OF THE HERETIC FRINGE AND PROTESTANT PERSAUSION
FROM: FANG (THE UNWASHED), W.K.C.: LIBERATOR OF THE THIRD EYE, PROTECTOR of the WESTERN WORLD, EXALTED LAMA of the NEW ORLEANS CABAL, and L.L.L.L.L.L. (Lovin’s Licentiously Liberated Lightning Lechers)
Concerning thy recent epistle of Excommunication: Screw Thee. Thou wilt understand, of course, that it isn’t the humble Fang; but FANG, W.K.C.: L.T.E., P.W.W., E.L.N.O.C., and L.L.L.L.L.L. and wilt therefore realize that naught of a personal nature is meant… dig?
Wouldst do me the favor of communicating Lord Omar’s current whereabouts to me in the swiftest mode. This One is plagued with constant uncertainties and apprehensions due to an extreme dearth of information concerning That One. I fear me ever that the Foul Forces of Light and Reason have fallen upon him unaware and smotten (wow!) Him severely about the shoulders and intellect. Thou wouldst earn thyself everlasting gratitude and a mention in the evening maledictions by such an action. Also; if you don’t, I’ll kill you.
As to the progress of the New Orleans Cabal: The first Temple of Eris in New Orleans was formally defecated on Nov. 3, 1964, at 519 Decatur St. (which, oddly enough, is also my home address.) It occupied a converted broom closet. Admittedly, that is rather humble quarters for such a large and far-flung organization; but in the short space of one month we have more than doubled our area. This noble word was accomplished chiefly through the untiring efforts of our noble leader, FANG, W.K.C.: L.T.E., P.W.W., E.L.N.O.C., and L.L.L.L.L.L. and his noble assistant, Charles Noble. They single-handedly (one hand, three hooks) formed K.R.U.D. (Kollectors of Revenue Under Duress) and saw to the raising of funds. Our membership already includes two beatniks, one wasp, a hunchbrain, and a genuine, card carrying square who has 2.7 kids and a wife with a cloth coat. Therefore, be of good cheer. Today New Orleans, tomorrow the Catacombs – with some scattered showers in the evening.
As I am naturally curious about what sort of person would spend his time on such drivel as this, kindly send me some data about yourself. Send also a copy of HYMN. Barring the feasibility of a picture, send a piece of fingernail and some hair…..
In closing, let me say: MARY CHRISTMAS, SAVIOR MONEY!!!(signed) FANG
As the beatniks morphed into hippies, Lovin went right along for the ride. On December 9, 1966, he hosted a “psychedelic happening” billed as an “LSD trip without LSD” that certainly sounded Discordian in nature, as documented in the December 10, 1966 States Time Advocate news article below.
On October 16, 1968, Lovin appeared on TV program called Hotseat revealing “The Truth About Hippies.” It was around this time that he started the first underground newspaper in New Orleans, The Word (later to be known as The Ungarbled Word.) While all of this was going on, Lovin became a suspect of sorts in the Garrison investigation, all of which will be discussed in more detail than you can possibly imagine in future installment of this series!
This was today in Discordian history.
Download a PDF copy of the National Review article found in the Discordian Archives and labeled “POEE ARCHIVE LOAN COPY.” Please remember to return your PDF copy to the Discordian Archives after you are finished.
Let’s have Tim’s wife, Mary Wheeler (aka Hope Springs), tell us more:
“Tim wrote an article for National Review which Bill Buckley loved. He published the article and made it the cover story. It was all about conspiracy theories and all sorts of stuff he had picked up from these guys, so that makes me think that article came after our association with them [the Discordian Society]. But that article certainly would have cemented the friendships. Remember we were on totally opposite sides of the political fence… Well, maybe not too opposite. Everyone seemed to be a libertarian/anarchist at the time…
“In those early years when Tim worked in the office [of the National Review], as an editorial assistant, there was a lot of joking about the Illuminati. I can remember conversations with fellow conservatives where the conspiracy of the Illuminati ballooned into a conspiracy of left-handed people, or those with first cousins named Jeffrey. It spawned fantastic letterheads! Nobody at NR took it seriously, and we made fun of those that did. I think that is why it was so much fun to discover the Discordians, who also didn’t take any of that seriously. We had discovered like-minded people who tended to be liberals, or at least anarchists. And we were right-wing crazies, although Tim was very much a libertarian…”
Check out our full Mary Wheeler interview here:
West Virginia—it should be noted—was a hotbed for high strangeness throughout the 1950s and 60s, first with the famous Flatwoods Monster sighting and then a series of UFO reports occurring in and around Point Pleasant, West Virginia during the same period as the fabled Mothman sightings reported by Fortean journalist John Keel in his classic The Mothman Prophecies.
How Thornley latched on to this West Virginia-UFO theory, I’m not quite sure, but by the mid-70s he began to connect man-made Nazi UFOs to the string of political assassinations of the late-60s as documented in an excerpt from a December 6th, 1976 letter sent to Greg Hill:
“The Nazis invented flying saucers during WWII and the assassinations and terrorism seem to have been part of an angry publicity stunt to bring to the world’s attention the engine in the UFOs, which uses no fossil fuels or uranium, but relies on electromagnetic principles to generate cheap, clean energy from the ions in the air or something. Gary Kirstein gave me all the hints I needed to put this thing together years ago, but I did not integrate them.
“See what I mean? It even gets weirder than that—at least more elaborate. But you get the idea. I’m a pawn in some stupid game of conspiracy politics.
“The outfit of Nazis who murdered JFK, MLK, RFK, and Tate were working for is a defense industry security agency called Defense Industrial Security Command (DISC). Hail Eris! An incredible amount of secret society terrorism within the Intelligence Community seems to have been carried out in the name of the Discordian Society.
“…It is possible I have a radio in one of my tooth fillings, installed by the CIA at Atsugi, and that I have dreams which are transmitted to me by the Nazi Shambala. It is also possible that both the CIA and DISC thought they had the transmitters for me and intended to use me, each to trick the other, in an abortive plot to overthrow the government. If this is the case, then I would appear to be a humanoid robot for freedom… You don’t have to believe this, but I am sincere, and it is one of the few premises that explains most of it…”
As for Louise Lacey, she witnessed a couple UFO sightings over the years, the first occurring in Texas as a child, and the second—and most mind-blowing—in Berkeley, California in the late 1970s, as recounted in this audio clip taken from an interview with yours truly.
or if that doesn’t work for you, download the MP3.
I recently came across a UFO incident description with accompanying illustration at Albert Rosales’s very groovy Humanoid and other strange encounters facebook page that looks a helluva lot like whatever it was Louise witnessed. (Hail Eris!)
Here’s the description from Humanoid and other strange encounters:
Laughing humanoids, France 1959
Location. Aubagne Bouches du Rhone France
Date: end of October 1959 Time: 1800
Miss Moulet, 45, was hanging out her washing in the twilight, with her 3 children, when she saw an egg-shaped object descend silently, to hover just above her. Through a wide triangular window in its front, strongly illuminated, she could see about 20 persons, tall, with wavy blond hair and very light skin, wearing white suits and short sleeves. They were smiling or perhaps laughing at her. The air became very cold. After 10-15 minutes the object took off again, disappearing in 2 or 3 seconds, leaving a slight trail.