I just recently learned that my dear friend and fellow Discordian Louise Lacey passed away.
Here’s her obit from the San Francisco Chronicle, which described Louise as a
“…writer, feminist and advocate for restoration of California native plants… Her writing career encompassed her best known book, Lunaception, which explored traditional ways of natural family planning, Woman’s Choice, a newsletter by and for women on topics of interest to women in all stages of life, and Growing Native, which educated readers and researchers on native plants from the rich diverse climatological regions of California. Several trips to Southern Mexico and Guatemala led to an enduring interest in the Mayan people. A tech writer by day, Louise often spent weekends hiking the hills w
ith friends from the West Coast Dowsers, searching for her Power Places…”
Besides all of the above, Louise accomplished even more…
I first met Louise in the early 2000s when I was researching my Kerry Thornley biography, and we became fast friends. At first, Louise was a bit guarded about Kerry, and as we were winding up our first meeting, she said something to the effect: “I hope you treat him right.” Ultimately, I think I told Kerry’s story honestly, which of course meant documenting some of his more trying times when he was teetering on the edge of madness, including a story Louise shared with me about a time when Kerry was visiting her in the mid-to-late 70s, and Louise could hear him during the middle of the night screaming out for the voices in his head to leave him alone. It was during this stay that Kerry almost set Louise’s house on fire when he left something burning on the stove.
I spent about three hours with Louise that first day, pouring through her voluminous files in search of articles and Discordian related correspondence, not to mention some photos she’d been telling me about of Kerry in her front yard in Berkeley from the mid-80s holding a harmonica. Although we discovered several cool Kerry photos from those bygone days, the ones with the harmonica seemed nowhere to be found, as if Eris herself had plucked them from our spacetime continuum and deposited them Goddess knows where.
At one point in our visit, Louise recounted the time she’d done some research work on the history of drums for Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead for his book Drumming at the Edge of Magic. During the course of conducting her research at the UC Berkeley Anthropology Library, Louise told me how she’d employed a method of dowsing to assist her in locating pertinent passages related to the history of the first drum. This method of literary dowsing was applied to save herself endless hours of thumbing through multiple shelves dedicated to drum history. Anyway, Louise demonstrated what she had done at the Anthropology Library way back when, by running her hands over her own bookshelf, then stopping at a place on the bookshelf where her intuition instructed her to.
We never did find the Kerry-with-the-harmonica-photo that afternoon, but Louise promised she would continue to seek it out. As Goddess would have it, Louise emailed me soon after with the following astounding revelation: “You know where I found the two photos of Kerry? At that place on the bookshelf where my hand ended up when I was telling the story about how I found the piece of information for Hart by dowsing!”
About 4 years ago I helped Louise move from her place in Berkeley to an assisted living facility. Her memory was starting to deteriorate at this point, but she still had enough on the ball to realize it was time to make this move, basically signing an agreement to hand over whatever savings and social security she had to lock in a deal at this senior facility that would provide a nice place to live and three square meals a day; somewhere she’d be able to live in comfort for the remainder of her days without constantly worrying about how she’d pay the bills from month to month.
As I was helping Louise make this life-changing move, many of the books she’d held dear for so many years were now slipping through her grasp; she didn’t care about a lot of them at this point, because the memories of what they’d meant, or the emotions she’d previously attached to them, were quickly fading from view. I ended up with a few of those books she was no longer interested in, or had no room for at her new space. One of these was Historia Discordia, which Louise had delighted in when I first presented her with a copy several years ago, but by this point I don’t think she remembered what it was about, or that I’d given her the copy; same thing with the Mickey Hart drumming book that she’d contributed to, which bore this inscription:
Louise’s Chronicle obit obviously hit on some of the high notes of her life, but I’ll add a few that weren’t mentioned. In 1963, Louise moved to Chicago where she worked as editor/staff writer at Novel Books, which published celebrity scandal type books in addition to titles with an Ayn Randian-Objectivist spin. Objectivism, at least in part, eventually morphed into what we know as Libertarianism, and during this period Louise was an adherent of sorts of Objectivism, or one might say she was a budding Libertarian; but like Kerry Thornley, Louise’s political identity soon after evolved into more that of an Anarchist, although any particular pigeonhole would never truly encompass such expansive characters as a Lacey or Thornley. Through her work with Novel Books, Louise first met Kerry in 1964 and ended up editing his first published work, Oswald.
After her stint in the windy city, Louise returned to California, working on the staff of Ramparts Magazine from 1966-1967. It was at Ramparts that Louise befriended Eldridge Cleaver, who worked as a freelancer there. As reported in Robert Anton Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger I, Louise’s Discordian moniker was “Lady L., F.A.B.” The “Lady L.” part was something Kerry had given Louise that was lifted from the title of a Romain Gary novel; however, the “F.A.B.” appellation was something Eldridge Cleaver had come up with, short for “fucking anarchist bitch.” As the story went, one day Cleaver was standing outside the Ramparts office with another unnamed staff writer who—when he saw Louise walking toward them out on the street—remarked, “Here comes that fucking anarchist bitch.” Cleaver, who had a soft spot for Louise, begged to differ with the fucking anarchist bitch appellation, noting that he considered Louise good people, and that furthermore she had taught him how to eat and appreciate artichokes.
Another book I took home with me during Louise’s move was Cleaver’s Soul On Ice, and only later flipping through it did I notice this inscription:
Like Thornley, Louise was an active observer/participant of the 60s counterculture as demonstrated in this previously posted article “Mellow Yellow and the Summer of Love”.
Louise was a founding member of Earth People’s Park, and during this late0-60s period she joined a commune called The Mendocino Way. I don’t really know all of the details surrounding The Mendocino Way, but her involvement with the group was short-lived when she apparently called BS on the leader who she felt was going down the guru path through manipulation of fellow commune members, including herself. In other words, Louise was shown the door when she started asking too many challenging questions of the group’s leadership. She was never one to fall in line.
Around this time, Louise began working on a book about the counterculture called With No Respect for Authority, which you must admit is a rather brilliant title. During our many conversations, Louise occasionally mentioned this project (that ultimately never came to fruition) and I don’t know why it was never completed, but by the mid-70s she had moved in another direction, having her first book published, Lunaception (1975), her landmark work on a natural method of conception, using the phases of the moon as a guide.
However, as I would later learn, Lunaception wasn’t technically Louise’s first published work, and that while with Novel Books she had ghost-written a tabloid style tell-all called The Beautiful Pervert, concerning Errol Flynn’s under-aged lover. Although Louise pretty much always kept this book on the down-low and never listed it in any of her published biographies, she would nonetheless pull it out on occasion and show it to me punctuated by her famous and uproariously nose laugh.
As the 1960s rolled into the 1970s, Louise published a newsletter called Woman’s Choice. As she described the concept at the time:
“Woman’s Choice is the ultimate realization of a twenty-plus year-old dream whereby people would pay me to write to them. My curiosities are so omnivorous that I could never write a book about each subject that fascinates me. Woman’s Choice is an intimate monthly letter by subscription. Thus I have a vehicle with which to write about things as diverse as dependency, the rhythms of life, and traveling alone. My purpose is to give a mental, emotional, and spiritual goosing to the reader on a new subject each month. No dogmas, just intriguing ideas and a fresh perspective in a personal but non-sentimental style.”
Here’s a download of Issue #2 of Woman’s Choice, which features a fascinating recounting of Louise’s experience with past life regression, and her subsequent journey to Central America in an attempt to confirm what she experienced during her trance state.
To fund Woman’s Choice, Louise decided to sell her house in the Berkeley Hills, which she’d later regret during the last decade or so of her life when the cost of Bay Area housing really put a crunch on her expenses, as over time she was forced to move from one place to another, with the condition or arrangement continually getting worse. Not that Louise ever lived in poverty, but times were certainly getting rough over the last decade and she had to pinch her pennies and get creative to make ends meet.
Among Louise’s many accomplishments was a government study she was involved in that resulted in a report she authored called Drug Use in San Jose, Project DARE (1978.) She found a certain irony in this project, as her lover during this same period became addicted to methamphetamine, effectively ending their relationship.
As noted in her Chronicle> obit, Louise sometime worked as a “tech writer,” which wasn’t quite accurate; Louise often freelanced as a technical writer for different outfits, but she was never really a “techie,” so to speak, and like a lot of people her age Louise often struggled keeping up with computers and technology. Louise never engaged in social media, but she was tech savvy enough to be concerned about the potential threat that social media posed to our personal privacy and so she avoided it like the plague. However, with the help of a webmaster, at one point Louise launched a site where she sold information about a cure for hemorrhoids she’d discovered. And so she was always working one angle or another to keep a positive cash flow rolling in.
As the Chronicle obit noted, Louise was a “Power Place Dowser.” Much like “water witches,” there’s a large community of folks who dowse for so-called “power places.” I have a number of Louise’s writings and recordings on this subject, materials I’ll share at a future date.
In this vein, I thought I’d share further examples of Discordian parties starting with a shindig thrown by Tim Wheeler (aka Harold Lord Randomfactor) at his farm in Shelbyville, Indiana, billed as the “Grand National Founding Convention of Young Americans For Real Freedom.” The intent of this gathering was to draft “The Shelbyville Statement,” which would be the guiding document of the Young Americans for Real Freedom (YARF). Of course, all of this was merely an elaborate joke-parody riffing on a real organization called the Young Americans for Freedom that was prominent in conservative political circles during this period.
Moving on to other Discordian parties, here’s a note from Greg Hill (aka Mal 2) to Louise Lacey (aka Lady L., F.A.B. – Fucking Anarchist Bitch) composed on genuine Illuminati stationary created by the aforementioned Harold Randomfactor.
“…celebrated at our apartment house with weird and eldritch festivities. Arlen and I, representing the Discordian Society, together with Stephen upstairs (Reformed Druids of North America), Claire and Carol in another apartment (witches, connected with the New Reformed Order of the Golden Dawn), and the Great Wild Beast Furtherment Society (which is really Stephen and me and another neighbor named Charles), opened all our rooms to a Crowleymas Party and invited nearly 100 local wizards and mystics…”
In attendance were such illuminaries as ufological visionary Jacques Vallee, along with a flock of other furry freaks from a hodge-podge of mystical and religious (dis)orders, including Grady McMurtry, then head of the Ordo Templi Orientis in the USA.
Apparently, such Discordian frivolities carried on well into the early 1980s as demonstrated in a letter below to Greg Hill from Camden Benares (aka The Count of Fives aka Felix Pendragon) announcing a duel sponsored event orchestrated in cahoots with renowned pornographer, and sometime Discordian, Ron Matthies under the banner of “Fort Chaotic.” In said letter, Camden mentions a Discordian novel he was working on at the time called Another Howling Eighties Conspiracy that unfortunately never saw the light of day, although we know he finished at least five chapters, Hail Eris.
As revealed in my Thornley bio The Prankster and the Conspiracy, Camden and his wife June often attended parties dressed as a priest and nun. After one such party, Camden and June—still bedecked in their holy garbed—visited a Denny’s in West Los Angeles where they spent considerable time making out in their booth. As would be expected, people began freaking out upon witnessing this ungodly spectacle, as in between sacrilegious smooches Camden gave blessings and benedictions to the stunned Denny’s patrons.
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
How Doc Jamison became acquainted with Rev. Broshears one can only guess, although it was probably due to their mutual affiliation with the Universal Life Church.
The Multiple Wave Oscillator (MWO) was invented in the 1930s by Georges Lakhovsky, and was said to produce healing therapies through the application of “ultra radio frequencies.”
The MWO has a long history in conspiratorial lore as one of those suppressed inventions along the lines of Wilhelm Reich’s Orgone Accumulator. Here’s a paper Jamison put together on the MWO, to further enlighten (or befuddle) your mind.
From what I’ve been able to piece together, Jamison acquired the MWO from someone in the San Francisco bay area, and Broshears was holding the unit in safekeeping until Jamison had an opportunity to pick it up. That’s when all the fun started.
On March 11, 1970, Jamison sent a letter to fellow Discordian Louise Lacey aka Lady L, F.A.B. (Fucking Anarchist Bitch) alerting her that “in a very few days, Rev. Ray Broshears should have a Lakhovsky M.W.O. unit in his possession…”
Lacey responded to the above letter on June 22: “I’m writing Rev. Ray Broshears about the Lakhovsky MWO unit, and hope to get together with him…” A short time later, Lacey received a phone call from Broshears, as documented in the letter below.
Broshears fired off a letter a few days later, on July 7, informing Jamison that the MWO unit had “gone with the wind” and that Lacey and “her bunch of rotten bastards can go to hell.” This letter included a mini-rant criticizing Jamison for apparently withdrawing support for “Light and Understanding” —whatever that actually entailed. (“Light and Understanding” was Broshears’ newsletter—maybe Jamison let his subscription lapse.) Broshears also notes that the “Council of New Age Churches (CNAC) Convention was an absolute financial disaster, and I resigned the presidency as the honorable thing to do. Dr. Stranges will make an excellent president…”
As noted in our first installment, Rev. Broshears was a key witnesses in Jim Garrison’s case against Kerry Thornley, which at this time was unresolved. When Thornley heard through the Discordian grapevine that Lady L. had been interacting with Rev. Broshears, he implored her: “Please don’t try and convert him; he is far more valuable on the other side as a hostile witness.”
In response, Lacey sent a letter to Thornley, dated August 1, 1970, chronicling her brief but befuddling interactions with Broshears, which she described as a “mind-cracking experience… 30 minutes of tortured insanity about his fear the cops were going to bust him because he had the MWO machine… His head is so messed up that I can’t think of a better hostile witness you could have… I have without a doubt established to my own satisfaction that he doesn’t know what he is talking about…”
Also, check out this previous post about Dwarf Planet Eris wherein Early Discordian Louise Lacy writes a letter to Eris’ discoverer, astronomer Michael E. Brown, in an attempt to lure him into Discordianism and most likely the Region of Thud.
After leaving the Left Coast, Clutterbuck found himself in the most conservative Republican county in the United States, Cobb County, Georgia, where he got a good, hard look at the Discordian Archives East. Here are a few pics of his visit:
Among the more prodigious correspondents of the 1970s Discordian letter writing circle was a fellow named Stan Jamison (aka Coman Ra – Lt. Colonel, Commanding 1st Intergalactic Confederacy Advance Detail—Planet Shan) who was a rather enigmatic sort in that he didn’t fit the typical mold of what some might consider a Discordian. Of course, using the term “typical” to describe a Discordian is oxymoronic, as there was nothing close to typical about any of the Early Discordians.
Many have associated the early Discordians with the hippie movement (whatever that actually was) and it can’t be denied that Greg Hill and his fellow travelers were heavily immersed in and influenced by the 1960s counterculture, and were students and practitioners of its myriad forms of expression, including alternative religions, non violent political protest, Anarcho-Libertarianism, and an irreverent sense humor that permeated their colorful network of guerilla ontologists.
Even though he was described, at times, as a semi-fascist right wing kind of guy, Jamison was into what some might consider some pretty hippy dippy type shit himself, and to some degree his interactions with Discordian Society members certainly rubbed off on him in terms of being able to see different sides of an issue and immerse himself in different reality tunnels he might not have normally ventured into or engaged in.
Jamison was a self described “naturopath,” a practitioner of natural healing and out of the box therapies who ran a mailing list dedicated to a wide range of topics such as growing organic sprouts, how to cure cancer via oxidation, and other alternative healing cures.
In this circa 1970 memo to Louise Lacey, Greg Hill shared his thoughts about the semi-enigmatic Doc Jamison.
To this end, Greg Hill’s comment (re Jamison supporting EPP) was emblematic of the sort of out of the box strategic thinking he often showcased in his writings. In this case the notion that Jamison could help promote a left leaning concept like EPP to a right wing audience who under normal circumstances might view EPP as a manifestation of Socialism. In reality, EPP slid more toward the anarchic side of the political scale, i.e. less government, which was the sweet spot where mutual interests between the left and the right sides of the political spectrum could find common ground.
Like his fellow Discordian conspirators, Jamison took part in many of the prank letter writing campaigns referred to as “jakes.” Once such jake was initiated by Discordian Thomas Patrick McNamara (aka Thomas the Gnostic) to The Rag, a counterculture mag out of Austin, Texas.
Others, of course, soon joined in on the fun, including Jamison with his own Illuminati letter to The Rag that included an honest to goddess pope card for The Rag’s “Illuminati Editor.”
During the late 1960s, Jamison resided in Irwin, California, or—as he called it—“The Free City of Irwin” where I guess he had his own branch of The Universal Life Church (ULC), a non-profit ministry whose headquarters were located in the nearby town of Modesto.
ULC became famous (or infamous, as the case may be) for ordaining ministers for a “free will love offering” and was a huge influence on The Discordian Society. Greg Hill, in fact, became an ordained ULC minister, and in the decades to follow thousands in the U.S. and abroad would receive their minister’s credentials through the organization.
One aspect of ULC that resonated with Greg Hill—and that became part of the Discordian ethos—was the idea that anyone anywhere at any given time could become a holy man or holy woman (a pope or mome.) ULC became popular during the Vietnam War era when many potential draftees from across this great land of ours obtained their very own ministerial credentials in the hopes it would help them steer clear of the war (on religious grounds), a notion that resonated deeply within the Discordian ranks and led to other like-minded correspondences/interactions, one of which was with Archbishop Gordon L. Cruikshank, an anti-gov/anti-tax advocate/militant of a certain stripe who had created his own religious organization called The Life Science Church in Rolling Meadows, Illinois.
Greg Hill was also a card carrying member of this outfit. (Of course there was never an alternative religion that Greg Hill met that he didn’t like.)
Another colorful character who came into the orbit of Hill and Jamison was W. John Weilgart, an Austrian philologist/psychoanalyst and the mastermind/madman behind “aUI,” a so-called constructed language or what Weilgart referred to as “the language of space.”
According to Brad Steiger, as a child Weilgart learned about aUI from a literal “little green spaceman” who informed him that this “space language” was used by all sentient beings throughout the cosmos, and that if adopted by humankind it could cure every one of irrational thinking patterns.
Weilgart’s motivation for inventing the language was to create a form of communication based on what he proposed to be universal, basic elements of human thought and expression, and incorporated it into his psychotherapy work.
Jamison forwarded three items to Louise Lacey that included a one page explainer on aUI; a letter about aUI and how it could be used as the official language of Earth People’s Park; and a letter from Weilgart to Jamison and Doc Iggy (aka Greg Hill) that apparently was in response to material The Discordians were circulating about nudes in San Francisco that “were soldiers in the Om United New World Nude Brigade.”
Jamison received a couple more letters from Weilgart detailing plans for a summer of 1970 West Coast visit that would be coordinated by Jamison and Hill to include speaking gigs and media appearances not to mention Weilgart trying to wrangle some nudie models for a body painting exhibit dedicated to his space language.
There was more back and forth correspondence, but suffice it to say I could no evidence that this Discordian-Weilgart hook-up ever actually took place, though the vision of voluptuous nudes with aUI body paint shines bright in my mind’s eye.
In his 1986 broadsheet Kultcha Issue #28 entitled “Coman-Ra,” Jamison’s Discordian name, Kerry Thornley wrote:
Since 1970, though, Greg Hill and I both had been receiving from him everything from advice about how to grow organic sprouts to racist newspapers published by White Christians who were armed and quite dangerous. In reply to one of my memos about Kirstein [aka Brother-in-Law] that had fallen into his hands indirectly, he wrote me to say that the tragedy in Dallas [Kennedy’s assassination] was plotted by the Secret Order of Thule in such a way as to assure that no cover-up could remain convincing forever. Motive: to make the American public paranoid about their government and mass media. For paranoia, he told me, is a big step in the direction of mental health.
People who become paranoid, Coman-Ra [Stan Jamison] wrote, will not rest until they discover every last shred of truth. Among the devices used to encourage awareness of conspiracy were the many crude Oswald impersonations that occurred just previous to the assassination. Puzzled for more than a decade about exactly that mystery, I had to admit this was the first credible hypothesis to explain it without making the assassins look like idiots. And had they been less than geniuses, there’d have been no cover-up at all.
Coman-Ra further informed me that the conspiracy was constructed in concentric circles, like Chinese boxes, with descending levels, so that only the “man at the center” understood afterwards exactly what had happened. Of course, I could not ignore the possibility that man might have been the person I call Brother-in-law.
What brought the many loose ends in the John Kennedy murder mystery together for me was this realization that it was a maximum complicity crime. Various factions must have been deliberately implicated on a blind-alliance basis, so that once the event occurred, every group of conspirators was startled at evidence of participation by someone besides themselves.
What brought the many loose ends in the John Kennedy murder mystery together for me was this realization that it was a maximum complicity crime. Various factions must have been deliberately implicated on a blind-alliance basis, so that once the event occurred, every group of conspirators was startled at evidence of participation by someone besides themselves.
Like Brother-in-law, Jamison seemed morbidly fascinated with Hitler and Nazi Germany. Both men mentioned in particular little-known aspects of the Third Reich — such as the secret pagan rituals of the SS and the occult beliefs of Hitler’s cohorts. Both repeated a rumor that Nazi rocket scientists discovered energy secrets the oil companies were repressing to this day. And whether either or both were living some kind of macabre hoax or were absolutely fanatical was impossible to decide, since neither man was without humor. For instance, [Jamison] always signed off with: “Love is Alive and Well.”
As might be anticipated, it struck me that perhaps Jamison and Gary Kirstein were the same person, so in 1977 I dropped in on Jamison unexpectedly at his address in Turlock, California. Not only was he not the same man I had conversed with in New Orleans, but it was plain that the spine-chilling ranting in his letters was just a big put-on. That isn’t to say his information about the assassination could not have been valid. A warm, intelligent human being obviously unsympathetic to Fascism, he nevertheless seemed quite versed in secret society politics.
“I come on all hairy like that in my letters,” he told me, “to scare off government agents.”
Even though he put out a lot of articles about how to cure cancer with oxidation and live forever by eating wheat germ, it appears (according to the U.S. Social Security Index) that Jamison lived only to the age of 75, dying in California on April 29, 1996, around that same time period (give or take a year or two) that so many of his Discordian brethren likewise cashed in their chips: Thornley in 1998, Camden Benares in 1999, and Greg Hill in 2000.
On September 16, 2006, famed Discordian Louise Lacey, aka Lady L., F.A.B., sent the following letter to Michael E. Brown, the Caltech astronomer who named the dwarf planet “Eris,” thus ushering in the Aeon of Discord.
This was today in Discordian History. And don’t you forget it.
One of the more curious characters (and when I say character, I mean, yeah, this guy was definitely a character) to emerge from the Oswald/Thornley/Garrison rabbit hole was a oddball named A. Edward Horsey, who somehow finagled his way into the fringes of the Garrison Investigation during the same time frame that Kerry Thornley was up to his ass in it.
This strange saga began on July 8, 1967, when Mr. A. Edward Horsey (of 3330 Virginia Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan) contacted Special Agent V. Lemar Curran of the Detroit FBI Field Office. At this time, Horsey informed the Bureau of his involvement with a group of researchers who were trying to get to the bottom of the JFK assassination. According to Horsey, he and his associates had enlarged frames of the Zapruder film and discovered two men lurking on the Grassy Knoll immediately following the assassination, one of whom held a literal smoking gun that Horsey identified as a CIA operative named Al Grout, a name first connected to the JFK assassination by way of an extremely rare and obscure book entitled, The Plot to Kill JFK.
But that wasn’t all: Horsey had uncovered evidence (or so he said) that another CIA agent named Bill Medina had recruited Lee Harvey Oswald in Mexico City, all part of a dastardly plot to set Oswald up as the assassination fall guy. Afterwards, the FBI checked with the CIA who denied employing any agents named Al Groat or Bill Medina. (But, of course, that’s what you’d expect ‘Them’ to say!)
Around the time Horsey was sharing his conspiracy theory with the Feds, a book well known to assassination buffs was published called Were We Controlled?, authored by the pseudonymous “Lincoln Lawrence.” Were We Controlled? presented the scenario that Oswald was a sleeper agent (ala The Manchurian Candidate angle) mind controlled by a secret technology called Radio-Hypnotic Intracerebral Control (R.H.I.C.) and Electronic Dissolution of Memory (E.D.O.M.)
Lawrence described R.H.I.C. as the “application of post-hypnotic-suggestion triggered at will by radio transmission. It is a recurring hypnotic state, re-induced automatically at intervals by the same radio control. An individual is placed under hypnosis. This can be done either with his knowledge—or without it by use of narco-hypnosis, which can be brought into play under many guises. He is then programmed to perform certain actions and maintain certain attitudes upon radio signal… an R.H.I.C. controlled person can be processed as Oswald was in Minsk, allowed to travel to any country… and be put to use years later by the application of RHIC controls. In short, like the toy, he can in a sense be ‘wound up’ and made to perform acts without any possibility of the controller being detected… He can be made to perform acts that he will have no memory of ever having carried out. In a manipulated kind of kamikaze operation where the life of the ‘sleeper’ is dispensable, R.H.I.C. processing makes him particularly valuable because if he is detected and caught before he performs the act specified… nothing he says will implicate the group or government which processed and controlled him.”
As for E.D.O.M., “it enables man to juggle with other men’s sense of time… through the use of radio-waves and ultra-sonic signal tones…. It in effect blocks memory of the moment.” According to Were We Controlled?, E.D.O.M. was employed to erase from Oswald’s brain the identities of the assassination conspirators. However, this shadowy group (referred to in Were We Controlled? as—you guessed it—“The Group”) didn’t want to take any chances, so as an extra precaution they brought in another patsy and did the same RHIC-EDOM number on his head. In this second instance, Jack Ruby was mind controlled to kill Oswald.
As for “Lincoln Lawrence”—the pseudonymous author of Were We Controlled? who was “working in liaison with the department of defense”—he was later revealed to be a New York media personality named Art Ford, most well known for his 1950’s television show Art Ford’s Jazz Party.
In 1976, assassination researcher Dick Russell met Art Ford in the NYC offices of Circus magazine. Russell described Ford as a “prominent radio announcer and longtime student of parapsychology with many connections in the publishing world.” However, publisher and UFO scene maker Tim Beckley informed me that Ford’s star had been pretty much faded by the mid-70s and at that time he was eeking out a living writing for Circus, having been relegated to a converted broom closet as his “office.” One of the circumstances that contributed to Ford’s tarnished falling star status was his involvement in the payola scandal of the early-60s.
Beckley recalled that around the time Were We Controlled? was released, Ford was trying to get him interested in a manuscript, but Beckley found Ford a bit too pushy and steered clear. As for Ford’s parapsychology interests, he was part of the Long John Nebel/UFO scene in New York during the 50s and 60s and appeared as a guest speaker at the Big UFO Show there in 1967. During his presentation, Ford claimed to have discovered an ET ray gun at the North Pole that was 100,000 years old! However—to those who had a chance to catch a glimpse of this weapon (such as Beckley)—it looked like a toy gun. During this same period, Ford produced an obscure and now impossible to find film on the Bermuda Triangle.
During their meeting, Ford told Dick Russell that the source for Were We Controlled? was an “intelligence insider” who passed info to him through a middle man, a New York Attorney named Martin J. Schieman, who was most noted for his representation of Mad Magazine in a precedent setting case, Berlin v. E.C. Publications, Inc., which established that parody does not infringe on copyright.
Around the time of the publication of We’re We Controlled?, Schieman was discovered in his office at the Time-Life building with a gun beside him and a bullet through his head, the result of an apparent suicide. However, Ford intimated that Schieman’s death was probably no coincidence and that Ford feared for his own life as well.
“I never met Lawrence,” Ford told [Russell]. “Whoever he was, he was very clever. He covered himself well. The only reason I am sure the man actually existed is, I got a telegram from him and then he managed to reach me by phone. I received payment, in cash, for helping him research his book. The research I did all went to a certain mail drop and was picked up. When he first contacted me, he told me to look into mind control techniques….”
In the introduction to We’re We Controlled?, “Lincoln Lawrence” cites another book which he claimed held the ultimate answer to the JFK assassination:
“We were told quite flatly that there was in existence a report that named three men who concocted a diabolical plot to kill JFK. It was supposed to be fifty-eight pages in length and was circulating in Chicago. We thought that this was a slim lead, but decided that we must find it and read it.
“In view of the fact that we devoted most of our waking hours for three years to this investigation, perhaps it isn’t surprising that we did indeed find that ‘report!’
“Its author, David M. Warren, refers to it as an ‘explosive documentary novel.’ In the early pages appears the claim that it ‘blows the lid off the secrecy surrounding the facts of Kennedy’s assassination.’
“Mr. Warren begins his strange story with these words: ‘Contrary to the findings of the FBI and the Presidential Investigating Commission, there was a plot behind the senseless slaying of President John F. Kennedy…. The killing was not the work of a lone assassin as most people have been led to believe…. A private investigating firm located in New York City have in their possession documented evidence which backs up the charge.
“Mr. Warren’s cast of characters includes two directors of the plot and a third person who was the key man in the plot. The fatal shot was fired by a marksman other than Lee Oswald, and Oswald was merely a dupe used by the key man.
“This odd document ends with a strange statement. In the beginning of his narrative, Warren writes, ‘Part of the mass of evidence unearthed by the private investigators included a diary, a small black book that contained, in shorthand, a detailed account of the plot to assassinate the President…”
Although “Lincoln Lawrence” identified the author of the above mentioned “report” as David M. Warren, for some strange reason he neglected to provide the actual the title of the book—or even the publisher’s name—but simply gave their address as 2715 North Pulaski Road, Chicago, IL. The title of this “explosive documentary novel” it turns out—drum roll please—was The Plot to Kill JFK.
This is where the Discordian connections first come into play. The Chicago publisher mentioned by Lincoln Lawrence happened to be Novel Books, the very same outfit that published Kerry Thornley’s Oswald. Both Oswald and The Plot to Kill JFK hit the shelves in 1965, two of the earliest JFK assassination themed books. Thornley’s editor at Novel Books was a young lady named Louise Lacey who established a friendship with Kerry and would later be ordained as a Discordian Pope. She’s also a good friend of mine!
Among the rarest of JFK assassination tomes, The Plot to Kill JFK was actually a two-fer—two-paperback-books-in-one—a gimmick publishers used back in the day to market novellas that we’re long enough for a regular sized title. The other book combined with The Plot to Kill JFK was a lusty romance yarn provocatively titled Summer of Want by Jenmary Cady. (Don’t worry, this all will come together shortly… sort of.)
The Plot to Kill JFK featured Al Groat as the trigger man in the caper, the same shadowy individual that A. Edward Horsey had claimed was a CIA agent and part of a Dealey Plaza assassination hit team. Also featured in the book was another supposed CIA agent (that Horsey also identified to the FBI) named Bill Medina.
The Plot to Kill JFK was authored under the apparent pseudonym “David M. Warren” and is considered among the rarest of JFK assassination conspiracy books. In fact—when I first started traveling down this odd avenue—there were zero copies available anywhere on the Net, and one of the few existing copies was located in the special collections at the University of Oregon, part of the personal library of Linus Pauling donated after his death. Not unlike Art Ford, Pauling was a man of many interests, among them the JFK assassination and UFOs!
Unfortunately, The Plot to Kill JFK was unavailable for interlibrary loan, and so on the remote chance that maybe I could connive them into making me a scan, I contacted the U of O Library and was informed that The Plot to Kill JFK had just recently been scanned into their system. and boom, the next thing I knew it landed in my dropbox! Once downloaded into my hot little conspiratorial hands, I immediately dove into The Plot to Kill JFK to get to the bottom of this whole JFK assassination thing.
The Plot to Kill JFK goes something like this: During the McCarthy commie scare era, this industrialist dude named Silas Proctor hired this other guy named Judson P. Starkey who ran an investigative firm with its main function being to flush out commies from private businesses. And so Proctor and this Starkey dude became associates, and after the Red Scare pretty much petered out, Starkey turned his investigation firm into an organization called the America First Society. The America First Society (as the name suggests) wanted to Make America Great Again by not only busting out a can of whoop ass on any commies they came across, but also put minorities in their place and that whole bit, kind of like the KKK meets the John Birch Society with a bit of fascism throw in for good measure.
In a nutshell, Proctor and Starkey were pissed at JFK because they saw him as a globalist do-gooder who loved the coloreds and was in bed with the Reds, so they decided a Dallas dust-up was in order and got this Al Groat guy who had been a sharpshooter in the military to do the dirty work.
The Bill Media character in the book is Oswald’s handler who gets him a job at the Texas School Book Depository under the pretense that he’s recruiting Oswald to be a CIA agent there to prevent JFK’s assassination, when in reality, they were setting-up patsy Oswald to take the blame for the crime of the century!
So that’s the basic premise of The Plot to Kill JFK, and while the book is very rare, I think my description will save you the time of actually reading it, because—in my estimation—it’s pretty cornball. However, if you do want to read it, I’ve uploaded a copy here for your possible reading enjoyment!
If you’ve been crazy enough to follow me this far, here’s where things start to link up to Discordia, and in particular Kerry Thornley and the Garrison Investigation. In December 1967, Harold Weisberg (the main thorn in Thornley’s side in relation to Garrison’s investigation) received a letter from a St. Petersburg, Florida housewife name Helen Hartmann. In her letter, Hartmann describes how she just recently caught the JFK assassination conspiracy bug and heaps lavish praise on Weisberg as being one of the key researchers who opened her eyes to the Warren Report “Whitewash.”
Hartmann also mentioned a St. Petersburg radio show on WLCY-AM hosted by a fellow named Bob Ruark who, in her opinion, was doing important work interviewing different researchers on the JFK assassination beat. To keep him in the loop, Hartmann started transcribing some of these interviews for Weisberg. In a January 17, 1968 letter, Hartmann included a rough transcript of a Florida TV interview with Kerry Thornley, and in this same letter, curiously enough, she asked Weisberg what he knew about Lincoln Lawrence of Were We Controlled? fame, and then goes on to write:
“I heard him [Lawrence] one night on a northern radio station and almost thought I could identify the voice but, unfortunately, conditions were such that the station kept fading away and I could not hear enough of it to be positive. His book is one of those suspected of being subsidized by some agency of the government, as I wrote in my first letter—writing of the possibility of some books being subsidized. In his case, it would have been because he presented such a far-out theory that all other critics would be made to appear ridiculous as well…”
Bear in mind that at the time of its publication, Were We Controlled? was very obscure and went virtually unnoticed, and those who did notice thought it was some sort of disinformation or pseudo science fiction. In the mainstream of JFK assassination research, Were We Controlled? was pretty much dismissed and really didn’t get talked much about until a decade or so later when the likes of Mae Brussell started name dropping it. By the time remote distance mind control started being talked about in the conspiracy research circles of the late 1980s, many were pointing to Were We Controlled? as one of the first books to explore the topic.
Hartmann’s correspondence to Weisberg ran over the course of a year-and-a-half and was quite detailed. She was obviously a hardcore researcher and went into a lot of minutiae back-and-forth regarding the assassination and different evidence that pointed toward a conspiracy. In some of her letters, Hartmann mentioned meeting a researcher named A. Edward Horsey.
In a December 17, 1968 letter to Hartmann, Weisberg writes:
“…There were some strange doings. First a man identifying himself as Horsey called me at home about Thornley and himself, beginning by saying [Thornley] had clobbered me on TV and perhaps should not have. He called me several more times in N.O. [New Orleans], or someone did, the last time leaving a message. When I called back the woman who answered the phone said he’d moved, leaving no forwarding address, about three days earlier—before this call was placed. Meanwhile, he or someone else had phoned my home, found where I was staying, and phoned there. The one who phoned there was impolite, identified himself as Thornley, and declared the alleged intention of ‘getting to the bottom of this.’ Now the man with whom I stayed in N.O. knows something of the story and asked for a number to which I could return the call. The caller refused to give it… Can you explain Horsey to me? This strange behavior?…. How did he get in all this, meet you, etc?… It looks strange…”
In a December 23 response to Weisberg, Hartmann starts her letter saying, “I am a little frightened by all that has been taking place here is to understate. I will start at the beginning and see if I can put things in some kind of order then some sort of picture may emerge…
What proceeds from there is a chaotic (Hail Eris) nine page account detailing her odd interactions with A. Edward Horsey who Hartmann became aware of through a local TV and a radio program Horsey appeared on in early September in which he stated ‘that he was in this area doing some investigations and that he would be leaving to return to Kalamazoo very shortly… A couple weeks later I received a phone call from him and he asked to visit me to talk about the investigation. He said he had been given my name and phone number by a man who lives near where he was staying….”
Soon after, Horsey paid Hartmann a visit and explained that he was involved with a loose knit group of researchers that included Josiah Thompson, author of Six Seconds in Dallas, and noted that: “This ‘group’ had arranged to receive all mail at an address in Houston, Texas in the name of Dr. John Smith.” Horsey mentioned they were using this mail drop because he and his associates had been threatened and harassed by those who wanted to shut down their investigation so they had to keep everything very hush-hush. Horsey also mentioned that he was trying to track down Kerry Thornley (during this period Kerry lived in Tampa.) At a later date, Horsey informed Hartmann that he’d indeed met up with Thornley and was trying to help him with his pending case in the Garrison Investigation.
Hartmann’s letter goes into exhaustive detail concerning the crazy intrigue surrounding Horsey’s visit to St. Petersburg, which you can read here.
The letter includes death threats (from anonymous sources) against both Horsey and Hartmann, all of this on account of Horsey’s claim he had solved the JFK assassination. Throughout the letter, Thornley played a prominent role in Horsey’s “investigation” and communications with other researchers in the field—like Vincent Salandria and Sylvia Meagher—seemed to suggest that Thornley was somehow throwing a monkey wrench into everything and, due to these antics, getting other researchers mad at Horsey. Or at least this is how Horsey portrayed the situation. If the intent of Hartmann’s rambling letter was to confuse the hell out of Weisberg, it no doubt succeeded.
In a letter dated 12/27/68, Weisberg shared this bombshell: “When [JFK assassination researcher] Gary Schoener told me that the call Vincent Salandria was deliberately led to believe was from David Lifton, in which he was asked to undertake Thornley’s defense, was really from Ed Horsey…” which clued Weisberg into the reality that Horsey was most likely spreading disinformation.
On account of these shenanigans, Weisberg decided to call Kerry Thornley to see what the hell was going on with this Horsey character, and Kerry told Weisberg that “He apparently had heard this call was by Horsey, not Lifton. He denied making any of the calls to me, or those to Sylvia Meagher [that] Horsey told me he [Thornley] had made and presumably charged to his phone….”
In subsequent letters, Hartmann informed Weisberg (and other correspondents) that she was now on to Horsey’s game and that he was “poison.” And yes, it was true that Horsey had been placing phony phone calls pretending to be other researchers and doing remarkably good vocal imitations of them, thereby gaining access to information while at the same time spreading disinfo and turning other researchers against each other.
In January 1969—as these curious Horsey revelations were coming to light—the Weisberg/Hartmann correspondence apparently ceased around the same time that Horsey also seems to have fallen off the map.
A few years back—when I first stumbled on the Hartmann/Weisberg correspondence—I didn’t know quite what to make of it all, as Horsey seemed like just one among the many sketchy characters that associated themselves with the Garrison Investigation. Then—a couple years ago—I was contacted by a quite well known conspiracy researcher of the 1990s (now retired) who had mysteriously disappeared from the scene toward the end of that decade. Anyway, this “retired” conspiracy researcher (we’ll call him Commander X) re-emerged from the shadows, albeit briefly, to alert me to Horsey’s connection to The Plot to Kill JFK and quite possibly Were We Controlled? To this end, Commander X voiced his suspicion that the author of both books might very well have been A. Edward Horsey, a theory that indeed makes a certain amount of sense.
Let’s look at the Were We Controlled?/The Plot to Kill JFK parallels. The narrative of both books, although non-fiction, are presented in a novelized form and read like fictional accounts in terms of action and dialogue. Both books feature a shadowy group of conspirators consisting of industrialists and businessmen with right wing affiliations and intelligence agency connections.
The Plot to Kill JFK conspirators were motivated to kill President Kennedy not only because they felt he was soft on Communism, but that he would be bad for big business; whereas the assassination plot in Were We Controlled? was designed to manipulate the New York Stock Exchange and allow the conspirators to profit from their foreknowledge of JFK’s death. In both scenarios, Oswald was set up as the patsy.
When Horsey talked to the FBI, he informed them that Jack Ruby had been acting under a post-hypnotic command when he shot Oswald, which was the exact plotline featured in Were We Controlled? Horsey claimed he’d been harassed and threatened. Similarly, Art Ford aired his suspicions that attorney Martin Schieman had been murdered due to the publication of Were We Controlled? and that Ford said he feared for his life, as well.
Commander X also suspected that Horsey may have been a closet Discordian and that he and Thornley were working in cahoots (ala Operation Mindfuck) to disrupt and spread disinfo among JFK assassination researchers. In response to Commander X, I pooh-poohed this idea, noting that in the hundreds of letters—and reams of Thornley/Garrison Investigation materials I’ve reviewed—not once had I ever come across any communications between Thornley and Horsey or any mention of Horsey by Thornley and I seriously doubt the two ever met. Commander X was also suspicious because Thornley’s book Oswald had been published by the same outfit—Novel Books—that was responsible for The Plot to Kill JFK, hence the possibility there might have been some sort of nefarious link between the two.
Goddess only knows…
But get this: I’m now fairly certain that it was actually Horsey who penned the “Helen Hartmann” letters! The Hartmann/Weisberg correspondence ended around the same time Horsey dropped off the map, and Hartmann—as far as I can tell—was the only one who met Horsey in the flesh or talked to him at any length. A lot of researchers got crazy phone calls from the guy, but no one ever seems to have actually met Horsey.
Although Horsey claimed he was living in Kalamazoo at the time of his St. Petersburg “investigation,” I suspect Kalamazoo was also a snow-job and that he was actually living in St. Petersburg the whole time. In addition, it seems that Horsey fed the FBI a line of BS (which is a crazy thing to do) about living in Kalamazoo, along with all the other bogus information he passed along.
So who the hell is/was A. Edward Horsey? An online search conducted in 2014 indicated that A. Edward Horsey (aka Aubrey Ted Horsey, aka A.E. Ted Horsey, aka Aubrey E. Horsey) was still alive (now in his mid-70s) in St. Petersburg, Florida. Further Internet sleuthing revealed that “A.E. Ted Horsey” was listed as the director of two religious organizations located in Florida.
When I entered the addresses of Horsey’s “churches” into Google Earth Street View, I discovered a couple of normal, though dumpy looking suburban homes, giving the impression that Horsey and his religious affiliations were some sort of scam. At one time, Horsey was using the email address of email@example.com, so a couple years back I tried to send him some fan mail there but it bounced back—but who the hell uses AOL anymore?
During a recent online search, I found a link indicating that Horsey had passed on (in 2007) to that big JFK Assassination in the Sky. This news came as a bit of a head scratcher because when I first conducted online searches for Horsey a couple years back all indications seemed to suggest he still alive. Now I don’t know what to think.
In our meeting we talk about what it was like to live with Kerry in Little Five Points, Atlanta. It seems important to mention that at the time they met, Kerry was, according to some, veering off into paranoia. I myself remain agnostic on some of his claims and skeptical of some others, especially his theory that his “real father” was a Nazi Admiral.
Tantra greets me at the entrance of her house, near a garden filled with gigantic cacti. She is smiley and excitable, and her passion for life is contagious.
She grew up in Indiana, in an area where very few people were around, few enough that one didn’t need to put clothes on to collect the mail on a hot day. She would go to Alabama, now and then, to see relatives. It was the kind of town where you couldn’t really admit to not being religious. She would attend Straight Creek Holiness Church, where people would yell and run around the congregation when the spirit seized them. When the spirit seized preachers, they would handle the snakes; a sign on the church quoted Mark 16:18, They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them. The spirit never seemed to seize them in her presence. When she was in Alabama, she missed the people she could engage with in California, and when she was away she missed the nature.
Tantra has a special relationship with nature. She spent years traveling the country in her van, sometimes driving out to a natural place, and finding a spot to sleep out in the open. It was during this period of travel that she began to develop her skills in Tantric yoga, healing, and her own construction of a form of effortless movement, called ‘Lucid Play.’
Tantra was in Little Five Points when she met someone who connected her with Kerry Thornley, who was to take a significant place in her life.
“I had been in Atlanta in Little Five Points and I met this guy who was the figurehead of Little Five Points. He would stand there and he would ring his bell and he would burn his sage and he would figure out who should meet whom. So he was telling me about Kerry Thornley and showing these broadsheets that he had put up and they were great political activism mixed with absurd, wild craziness. And so I wanted to meet him, and I thought, I want to come back to Atlanta to spend time with Kerry Thornley. And he was, I guess, 60 or something like that.
“And so then later I was going to Atlanta. I thought it was going to be just for a weekend but then my van broke down so I had to find a place to live. I was reading The Illuminatus! Trilogy. It was dedicated to Kerry. I stayed with that guy that I mentioned. His friend Wilson Leary, Timothy Leary’s cousin, came by, he and I started dating. So I’ve got all these things in the world of Kerry Thornley like…” she waves her arms and makes sounds to imitate the ineffable presence of Thornleyness that was entering her sphere.
“So I was trying to figure out where I was going to live and this guy just came up to me in Little Five Points and said, ‘If you’re looking for a place to live, you can live with me, I’ve got a porch.’ I checked out this house and they’ve got a big porch and so I moved in. It was a really wild artistic kind of place. I found out that Kerry Thornley lived there in this little mother-in-law right out the back. So I went there looking for Kerry Thornley, and moved in next to him without even knowing it.”
“Do you remember the first time you actually met him?” I ask.
“Uh-huh. Coming out of my room it was like, ‘There’s Kerry Thornley!’ Or, Omar Khyaam Ravenhurst.”
“What did you two talk about the first time you met?”
“Oh, I probably was just kind of squealing and telling him how glad I was, and him just doing this great laugh. I love his laugh. It was unlike anyone else’s. I wouldn’t even try to imitate it. He had thirteen cats or something like that, some huge number of cats so you’d always hear him calling them. He was just this really sweet little cat man, and son of a Nazi, such an odd combination, he claimed. In my life I always run into these MK-ULTRA kind of people, which was a little scary sometimes, that that happens, and that’s what he was, he said.
“I was also was a little bit uneasy about how much, living with him, was that going to involve me? How much was I being watched because of it? So it became like The Illuminatus! Trilogy. Black helicopters were going over all the time, and just becoming more and more like those books.”
Kerry said there were flying helicopters over his house,” I say. I was thinking of what a friend of Kerry, Louise Lacey, had told me of Kerry’s time in Florida when I said this, though I’d forgotten the details of what I’d heard. She had told me that Jim Garrison had sent helicopters over his house.
“They were, they were,” Bensko says. “They were doing it a lot. They would even follow me around. He seemed to know what he’s talking about. People always think that he was making up these stories in his head about the mind controllers and stuff, but I don’t know. He might have been.”
It was once while they lived in this close proximity that Tantra decided to perform a Discordian ritual, after a comment Kerry made.
“He said that the beauty of Discordianism was that he didn’t have to see any other Discordian-ists. And so there were no rituals. So to fly in the face of that then and give it a little chaotic shuffle, I told him, ‘we’ve got to do a ritual then.’ He thought that was a great idea.
“So I got a stick of butter and I molded it into the shape of Eris the Goddess and I put it on the floor. We said something over it you know, and his thirteen cats came and positioned themselves around the butter so there was no space in between them. They were all just jammed into where their tongues were right in there in the butter and they all started spinning around in a circle all at the same time, so you had this circling cat-thing around Eris, licking it until it was gone while Kerry and I were just laughing.”
“So that was the core moment that I remember about that ritual. His cats after that walked off but kind of continuing to circle and just ‘woah hey’ and wobble off to the edges.”
“Did you spend much time with Kerry after that?” I ask.
“Oh yeah, I spent a lot of time with him when I lived in Atlanta because I was there a couple of years, and so we were really good friends. I think I spent as much time with him over those years as everyone else did altogether. He didn’t really have a lot of people come by. And the other people in the house didn’t go to see him that much. But we were buddies. We hung out. I just deeply love Kerry.
“I don’t agree with some of his politics like, ‘Kill Kennedy.’ But yeah, I really liked Kerry a lot. I felt like his writing with Eris might have had something to do with his feeling like he did inadvertently kill Kennedy by suggesting someone like Oswald could be a patsy. But who knows; it’s one layer after another it’s so complex at the time.”
When I first talked to Bensko over the Internet she pointed out that she wasn’t a Discordian and wasn’t any kind of expert, but when I spoke to her in person, she said she was identifying sometimes with the title. I asked her to tell me what about the ideology meant to her.
“It’s postmodernist,” she says. “There’s many angles, and none of them are true.” She likes that Discordia is essentially difficult to take too seriously, and finds the attitude of believing without believing useful to her work. “There’s lots of Gods in Tantra Yoga too, and I see them as physics principles,” she tells me.
We chat for a long time; Tantra is someone who it is immensely easy to be around. She carries an effortless friendliness that invites you in and asks you to engage, without needing to say the words. She talks about many things, including her time in Little Five Points, her Yoga experience and her book, Collapsible Horizon.
I walk home. The air is warm and still. I arrive back to the marijuana-scented hostel doors, and make my way up the winding stairs to my room.