On August 25, 1965, Poland staged a “Nude Wade-in” along with compatriots Ina Saslow and Shirley Einseidel at Aquatic Park in San Francisco. The “Nude Wade-in”—as you might have guessed—was exactly that: the three of them wading naked into a public pool to the shock and amazement of other wide-eyed waders. If that wasn’t enough, in May 1968 at the Fillmore West, Poland orchestrated a public sex orgy in cahoots with the Diggers.
In 1970, Poland founded the Psychedelic Venus Church with bisexual Navy submariner and Vietnam vet, Brian Traynor (aka “Mother Boats”). The official sacrament of the Psychedelic Venus Church was marijuana “…and, after lighting up, at each meeting a woman was chosen to be Venus. At the beginning of services, she was placed on an altar, candles were lit on each side of her, and her vulva was smeared with honey. Each of the males (and some women if so inclined) at the meeting licked the woman’s vulva in order to honor the goddess Venus. Then the orgy began in earnest…” Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_Freedom_League
The Psychedelic Venus Church had amassed 700 members before disbanding in 1973. One of these members was our Discordian co-founder Greg Hill, although it’s doubtful Hill ever partook of the divine sacrament in a group orgy setting. However, he did receive his very own membership card.
In June of 1971, Poland was attempting to start a collective known as the World Council of Psychedelic Churches, which he was encouraging the Discordian Society to join.
The Hill-Poland correspondence included the group’s newsletter, Intercourse, as well as this index card suggesting Poland, or someone in the Psychedelic Venus Church, was dealing acid at one time or another.
Poland, it so happens, had a general physical resemblance to Discordian Society co-founder Kerry Thornley, especially in his younger adulthood. There were other parallels as well:
* Like Thornley, Poland was both highly intelligent and deeply disturbed, spent most of his life living in voluntary poverty, and had *boundary issues* when it came to sexuality (he molested a preteen girl in San Diego during the 1980s, and earned jail time and Sex Offender status for that act.)
* Like Thornley, he operated under *noms de guerre* for his communications. In his last years in San Francisco he called himself “Tortuga Bi-Liberty”; earlier he’d used such monikers as “Tahanga” (“naked” in Maori) and “Jomo Kabouter.”
* Like Thornley, he spent much of his life publishing crude broadsides and zines to publicize sexual/body freedom and other causes he advocated.
* Like Thornley, he founded his own half-serious Goddess-centric religion: The Psychedelic Venus Church, an early neo-Pagan sect that used cannabis as a sacrament, and held nude orgiastic rites among Bay Area hippies.
* Not sure if the two ever met in real life, but they have a connection: Richard Thorne, a ranking member of the East Bay Sexual Freedom League, was a close associate of Poland’s. Thorne, as readers may recall, called himself “OM” and led nude parades through the streets of Berkeley and San Francisco, which earned him Discordian Pope status and a story in the SF CHRONICLE.
Mike Marinacci is the author of CALIFORNIA JESUS, WEIRD CALIFORNIA, and other books about fringe culture and history. He is currently working on a biography of Jeff Poland.
I recently contacted William “Bill” Helmer about his days at Playboy and friendship with RAW & Bob Shea. To this end, I’ll be conducting an interview with him in the near future.
In the meantime, Bill shared this essay with us on the origins of the John Dillinger Died For You Society. —Adam Gorightly
The bizarre origins but otherwise True History of
JOHN DILLINGER DIED FOR YOU
There I was, at The University of Texas, one evening in the summer of 1966, delivering a brilliantly-researched paper to a small but select American Studies class. They were spellbound by my argument that John Dillinger made a few unorthodox withdrawals from banks and therefore deserved much of the credit for improving their security at a time when Americans desperately needed a “People’s Bandit” to distract them from their Depression worries. (The fact that I also brought to class a modified tenor sax case containing a slightly-illegal Thompson submachine gun, for “show and tell,” fascinated everybody.) (You could get away with such things back then.)
As I pointed out, Dillinger had just the right style–a sense of humor, occasional pranks, treated his hostages like guests (he tied the Racine bank’s Mrs. Patzke to a tree with a shoe string), eluded every police and FBI trap, and when he broke out of the Crown Point, Indiana jail with a wooden pistol, he took a couple of happy hostages and motored out of town singing “Git along, li’l doggie, git along.”
He also was a ladies’ man—playful and romantic—until that terrible night on July 22, 1934, after he, his new girlfriend, and the duplicitous “Woman Red,” had enjoyed “Manhattan Melodrama” at Chicago’s Biograph Theatre. As they were leaving, a bunch of trigger-happy Feds set his spirit free.
(The fact that they also winged two bystanders is rarely mentioned.)
John died with his boots on, so to speak. He previously had stayed up nights nursing his girlfriend (who was ignorant of the plot) after she was banged up in a car wreck. My very own Aunt Meta was a student nurse at Cook County Hospital at the time, and she wrangled her way into the basement Cool Room to see his remains. The next day, despite the city’s hundred-plus heat wave, nearly a thousand Chicagoans patiently waited in line outside the morgue, where they were allowed to file past John’s bullet-ravaged body. Some no doubt wept. And what with the usual odors, the stench of formaldehyde, and the flies attracted to his terrible wounds, this may well have been the inspiration for what now is called “A Taste of Chicago.”
Back in 1966, however, when that particular college class had adjourned to the back-yard area of Austin’s historic Scholz Garten, our Pulitzer Prize-winning professor, Dr. William Goetzmann, after quite a few beers, proposed that we establish The John Dillinger Died For You Society. It was intended to be no more than a spoof of the Elvis Presley fan clubs that were springing up everywhere (and of the “Jesus Died For You” signs that were coming into flower), so you can imagine the enthusiasm that my Dillinger paper inspired among the other students, who also were chuckling over the Presley fan clubs and weary of hearing how anybody “died for you.”
By then Dr. Goetzmann was tipsy enough to further declare that the Society’s founder should be Horace Naismith, a mythical figure who would delegate his authority to me. That name, Horace Naismith, came out of nowhere, but it could easily be mistaken for the fellow who invented basketball. (I don’t believe anybody thought of that at the time, but it later would come in handy: “Naismith? Wasn’t he the guy who…”)
We soon had a few dozen more-or-less official members of the Society and had membership and credit cards printed, but it was not what you’d call a formal organization, like the American Legion or Rotary Club. Everyone in the Society was automatically an Assistant Treasurer authorized to sell memberships to anyone at any time for any amount and then keep it, Because John would have wanted it that way.
The “credit card” had a hole at the top and read simply, “Present this card on the end of a pistol and ask that your purchase be charged. In most states the charge will be armed robbery.”
Also, anyone in the Society could convene a meeting at any time, so long as they left one chair empty for the “Dear Departed Member.” (This would be Mr. Dillinger, of course, although some believed that it referred to his supposedly impressive Private Member, which the Smithsonian still insists it doesn’t have and refuses to display.)
In any case, we had our first official meeting at my residence (a one-time Elks Lodge) on East 12th Street in Austin, diagonally across from the state capitol, after which we amused ourselves with a little target shooting in the basement. Soon after that we instituted what we called The John Dillinger Died For You Society Picnic & Punitive Expedition which included a Thompson submachine gun, a case of ammunition, a case of beer, and a case of dynamite, because our host (who had a ranch west of Austin) was big into blowing things up.
As word got around, the Society grew until it could boast some forty or fifty members, and it had become international (I think we had one member in Canada) by the time I moved to Chicago in 1969, where John had fallen. There I encountered other Dillinger buffs (they just didn’t have a society), including two fellow Playboy employees—Bob Shea and Bob Wilson, who just happened to have offices on either side of mine—and were hard at work on Illuminatus!, which ultimately became a cult classic. (Shea would write a chapter that involved conspiracies within conspiracies and then turn it over to Wilson, sight unseen, who would take up the story and elaborate with even more conspiracies. Oddly enough, it held together and actually made sense!)
Needless to say, Shea and Wilson were both Dillinger enthusiasts because of their frequent patronage of the Biograph, and of course I helped them work Dillinger into their story. (Shea and Wilson even mentioned Dr. Naismith as something or other, and me, as the Reverend Mr. Helmer, although the rascals gave me a social disease.)
At the time I was endeavoring to give the magazine its “redeeming social value” by way of the Playboy Forum, which published letters and editorials, and the Playboy Defense Team, with offices in the Playboy Building at 919 North Michigan Avenue (formerly the Palmolive Building); and I fed Shea and Wilson enough Dillinger lore that we soon had not just one but seven Dillingers, thanks largely to a couple of goofy crime-writers who had just co-authored Dillinger: Dead or Alive? (It was our belief that since Mr. Dillinger had been accused of robbing banks all over the country, sometimes simultaneously, he therefore had to employ doppelgängers.)
Meanwhile, I kept encountering more Dillinger buffs, and after a while we began commemorating the passing of John every July 22 at the Biograph Theatre. The management even (grudgingly) cooperated, and that was how I met Richard Crowe, fabled Ghostbuster (I call him), whose several-times-a-week bus tours include Resurrection Mary, Al Capone’s old Lexington Hotel, and, of course, the alley down which the spirit of John Dillinger still walks.
Horace Naismith remained the mysterious master of ceremonies, usually masquerading as an equally mysterious Bill Helmer who maintained an eerie silence, wore a vintage straw boater, steel rim glasses, a pin-striped jacket, and an outrageous 1930s necktie. Mr. Crowe took over the Society, arranging for members (and anybody else) to meet at a nearby tavern and drink themselves into what we’ll call a wake. About 10 PM he would lead his congregation across Lincoln Avenue to the Biograph Theatre (that’s how they spell it) to hear an inspirational speech, after which Mr. Crowe would again lead the way to the nearby alley, accompanied by an honest-to-God, properly-kilted, bagpiper skirling the mournful strains of “Amazing Grace.”
Then everybody (everybody who could remember the words) joined the piper in that sad song because—we again have to presume—John would have wanted it that way.
I, under the nom de guerre Horace Naismith, have since “passed the torch” of The John Dillinger Died For You Society to Mr. Crowe, commonly known as Col. Richard Crowe. I am confident that the faithful will continue to pay their respects every July 22, commemorating the most colorful outlaw of the 1930s who never personally killed anyone.
Well, maybe one, but the cop had refused Dillinger’s admonition to stop bouncing slugs off his bulletproof vest–if it was in fact John, for he only was accused, but never had time to stand trial. In any case, he shot low, they say, and as the officer fell, one slug stuck him in the chest. When John himself later was killed, shot in the back, his pockets yielded a mere $7.71, no doubt because some $20,000 in “git” money had been stolen from his pocket by a rogue cop from East Chicago who had set up the shooting because he had been getting it on with Ana Sage, our “Woman in Red.” (Ana later confirmed that she had seen John count out the money at her place before they went to the movie).
Let’s all remember that Mr. Dillinger was crooked but not twisted, and that he disapproved of unnecessary violence. Unfortunately, he had some colleagues who did not share his otherwise conventional (if somewhat flexible) Family Values.
CRIME MAY NOT PAY
BUT IT CAN BE A SHORTCUT TO IMMORTALITY
According to the June 11, 1970 edition of The San Francisco Chronicle:
“Two willowy blondes walked nude down Market street yesterday, hand-in-hand with a naked dwarf who had a peg-leg and a beard.
“The three of them, at the height of the evening rush-hour traffic, commanded considerable attention.
“They said they were soldiers in the Om United New World Nude Brigade, whose objective is to free mankind from 6000 years of sexual guilt…”
This public display was all part of a “Go Nude Now” campaign sponsored by the OM United New World Nude Brigade (OUNWNB), overseen by the great religious leader, Baba Om, according to the group’s propaganda.
Greg Hill (under the guise of Dr. Ignotum P. Ignotius) sent five pope cards to Baba Om, “the girls and the little fellow, plus one extra on general principles (to accord with the Law of Fives)…”
In addition to a sermon on the benefits of chaos, Doc Iggy congratulated “OUNWNB for your masterful positively–directed-disorder, by parading about the streets baldassed naked, with magnificent effect!”
To commemorate this auspicious occasion, the Joshua Norton Cabal issued the following proclamation:
To follow is a multi-part part series on Roger Lovin, one of the more mercurial characters of the Early Discordian scene. Lovin’s story does indeed have a dark tinge to it, as the subtitle suggests, all of which will be unveiled in our final installment with an audio interview of Jean Marie Stine recorded June 24, 2016… but let us begin at the beginning.
Born Roger Watlington in Knoxville, Tennessee on May 11, 1941, he later changed his name to Roger Lovin which would prove apropos in terms of the footloose and fancy free lifestyle he later adopted.
In the early 1960s, Lovin managed a French Quarter coffee house called The Gryphon, which doubled as a bohemian art gallery and hangout for French Quarter beatniks. In this regard, a curious news article appeared in the Oct 12, 1964 The Times-Picayune about a smoke bomb attack at The Gryphon that caused minor damage and one injury.
It’s unknown if the bombing was in any way directed at Lovin, although that wouldn’t come as a surprise as he was always a somewhat controversial character fond of ruffling the feathers of the squares. However, I suspect this incident may have had something to do with the bohemian clientele that frequented The Gryphon and a certain conservative element in New Orleans that was probably none too thrilled about it. As noted in the news article, a similar smoke bomb attack went down at the Quorum Coffee House (also known as The Quorum Club), another establishment with deep Discordian ties. A Wikipedia entry describes The Quorum as “a coffee house in New Orleans, known as a model for multicultural exchanges in the politically and racially charged atmosphere of the 1960s. It became a frequent target of segregationist harassment in New Orleans after it opened to persons from all racial backgrounds in 1963. In 1964, police raided The Quorum and arrested 73 people on charges such as ‘playing guitars out of tune.’”
Although The Quorum was a multicultural beatnik mecca, Kerry Thornley returned to New Orleans in the summer of 1964 and delivered a decidedly un-beatnik type lecture there on Ayn Rand and Objectivism—but that was typical Thornley: an iconoclast who reveled in tweaking people’s sensibilities on either side of the cultural or political spectrum. It’s also important to note that Kerry’s last meeting with the notorious Gary Kirstein (aka Brother-in-law who supposedly lured him into the JFK assassination) took place on the back patio of The Quorum (cast in creepy shadows) following Kerry’s lecture there that night.
Another Early Discordian, Barbara Reid (the main witness against Kerry in the Jim Garrison fiasco), became known as a “den mother” to a group of hippie kids that hung out at The Quorum, so the Discordian connections ran deep and weird. Apparently, there’s a film documentary about The Quorum called, appropriately enough (yes, you guessed it), The Quorum, which speaks to the influence this coffee house had on French Quarter culture. The website for The Quorum film describes how it was started in 1963 “by an idealistic group of individuals most of whom had met at the Ryder, an earlier, short-lived, racially integrated coffee house on Rampart Street in the New Orleans French Quarter. When the Ryder was shut down by city officials on the pretext of needing the space to construct a hotel, approximately twelve of the former Ryder patrons banded together to establish a similar sort of establishment with a similar purpose….”
As it so happens, the defunct Ryder coffee house (mentioned above) became of interest to Jim Garrison during his JFK assassination investigation as a supposed meeting place where Thornley had met with Lee Harvey Oswald and other suspected diabolical doings went down, which I previously covered in this post. But I digress…
The Quorum and Gryphon smoke bombings occurred during the same period Jim Garrison rolled out a campaign to “clean up” the French Quarter, and the specific targets of this campaign were strip clubs and establishments catering to the homosexual community. This is not to suggest that Garrison was in any way responsible for the smoke bomb caper, but what these events spoke to was the tension and unrest brewing across the cultural landscape, particularly in the French Quarter which had always been a fertile breeding ground for freaks and free spirits to flourish.
This period is covered in Plot Or Politics?: The Garrison Case and Its Cast (1967), authored by award winning New Orleans States-Item reporters Rosemary James and Jack Wardlaw, who covered the Garrison investigation from its very beginnings. Plot Or Politics? also covers, albeit briefly, the rise of Garrison’s political career and provides an intimate snapshot of what was brewing behind the scenes with the Garrison investigation before it became a thing. Plot Or Politics? is also of interest because it devotes a couple pages to none other than Kerry Thornley regarding his interactions with Oswald in the Marines. This section on Thornley is noteworthy because it appeared several months before Garrison painted a target on Thornley’s back.
In regards to Garrison’s campaign against “vice,” pages 21 and 22 of Plot Or Politics? informs the reader that:
Almost as soon as he took office, Garrison took aim at the city’s sin strip—“The Street”, Bourbon Street. Former New Orleans newsman Bill Stuckey recalls:
“Shortly after he became district attorney in 1962, [Garrison] launched a crackdown on homosexuals in New Orleans, raiding ‘gay bars’ frequently, arresting ‘gay kids’ on the streets of the French Quarter. After one such arrest, the New Orleans States-Item sent me to the police station to see what the formal charges were. There, on paper, probably was one of the strangest charges in U.S. legal history: ‘Being a homosexual in an establishment with a liquor license.’ The drive died down after several weeks. One benefit of it may have been the creation of a body of homosexual informants for the district attorney’s office—informants possibly involved in his Kennedy plot investigation.”
It probably appears like I’m once again digressing, but I wanted to lay out the cultural landscape of the period—a culture in which Lovin was knee deep—and the conditions that precipitated the crackdown on the homosexual community, all of which might have attributed to the coffee house smoke bombings, and a cultural sea change which was only then just beginning to make waves…
When Greg Hill and Kerry Thornley moved away from the French Quarter in the mid-60s, they left the New Orleans branch of the Discordian Society in the capably chaotic hands of Mr. Lovin, whom Thornley described in the Illuminet Press intro of Principia Discordia as “a dashing, talented and handsome con artist who was too shallow to settle into any one thing. But for years and years after he read the Principia, under his Discordian name of Fang the Unwashed, he consistently and with unswerving devotion to the task excommunicated every new person any of the rest of us initiated into the Discordian Society.”
Kerry wasn’t just lightly tossing around the assertion that Lovin excommunicated new Discordian initiates, as revealed in this December 2, 1964 letter from Greg Hill (aka Malaclypse the Younger) to pilgrims Judy Gates and Bob Yeager.
The Early Discordians become infamous for these types of humorous letters, and one of the funniest I’ve come across was composed by Lovin dated December 17, 1964, addressed to Greg Hill (who appears to have been staying with Bob Newport in Chicago at the time):
All Hail Discordia!!!!!?!!!!!!!
To: MALACLYPSE (THE YOUNGER), K.C.: OMNIPOTENT POLYFATHER OF VIRGINITY IN GOLD AND HIGH PRIEST OF THE HERETIC FRINGE AND PROTESTANT PERSAUSION
FROM: FANG (THE UNWASHED), W.K.C.: LIBERATOR OF THE THIRD EYE, PROTECTOR of the WESTERN WORLD, EXALTED LAMA of the NEW ORLEANS CABAL, and L.L.L.L.L.L. (Lovin’s Licentiously Liberated Lightning Lechers)
Concerning thy recent epistle of Excommunication: Screw Thee. Thou wilt understand, of course, that it isn’t the humble Fang; but FANG, W.K.C.: L.T.E., P.W.W., E.L.N.O.C., and L.L.L.L.L.L. and wilt therefore realize that naught of a personal nature is meant… dig?
Wouldst do me the favor of communicating Lord Omar’s current whereabouts to me in the swiftest mode. This One is plagued with constant uncertainties and apprehensions due to an extreme dearth of information concerning That One. I fear me ever that the Foul Forces of Light and Reason have fallen upon him unaware and smotten (wow!) Him severely about the shoulders and intellect. Thou wouldst earn thyself everlasting gratitude and a mention in the evening maledictions by such an action. Also; if you don’t, I’ll kill you.
As to the progress of the New Orleans Cabal: The first Temple of Eris in New Orleans was formally defecated on Nov. 3, 1964, at 519 Decatur St. (which, oddly enough, is also my home address.) It occupied a converted broom closet. Admittedly, that is rather humble quarters for such a large and far-flung organization; but in the short space of one month we have more than doubled our area. This noble word was accomplished chiefly through the untiring efforts of our noble leader, FANG, W.K.C.: L.T.E., P.W.W., E.L.N.O.C., and L.L.L.L.L.L. and his noble assistant, Charles Noble. They single-handedly (one hand, three hooks) formed K.R.U.D. (Kollectors of Revenue Under Duress) and saw to the raising of funds. Our membership already includes two beatniks, one wasp, a hunchbrain, and a genuine, card carrying square who has 2.7 kids and a wife with a cloth coat. Therefore, be of good cheer. Today New Orleans, tomorrow the Catacombs – with some scattered showers in the evening.
As I am naturally curious about what sort of person would spend his time on such drivel as this, kindly send me some data about yourself. Send also a copy of HYMN. Barring the feasibility of a picture, send a piece of fingernail and some hair…..
In closing, let me say: MARY CHRISTMAS, SAVIOR MONEY!!!
As the beatniks morphed into hippies, Lovin went right along for the ride. On December 9, 1966, he hosted a “psychedelic happening” billed as an “LSD trip without LSD” that certainly sounded Discordian in nature, as documented in the December 10, 1966 States Time Advocate news article below.
On October 16, 1968, Lovin appeared on TV program called Hotseat revealing “The Truth About Hippies.” It was around this time that he started the first underground newspaper in New Orleans, The Word (later to be known as The Ungarbled Word.) While all of this was going on, Lovin became a suspect of sorts in the Garrison investigation, all of which will be discussed in more detail than you can possibly imagine in future installment of this series!
After seeing this “Barrage of Popes” ad in the June 19th, 1970 edition of The Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Greg Hill (aka Dr. Ignotum P. Ignotius—Successor to Malaclypse) sent the following pithy letter along with three (3) Pope Cards—in addition to a five pointed gold star—to the three (3) Popes in question who were starting three (3) new religions at a “Divine Intervention” planned for Las Vegas later that year.
TO NOTE: Hill uses the exiting salutation “FLIEGENDE KINDERSCHEISSE!” in his letter to the three (3) Popes, which translates from the German to “Flying Baby Shit!”
This term appears on Page 00031 of the Principia Discordia as part of the “THE POEE MYSTEREE OATH”.
During Saul Goodman’s visit to the Playboy Club in Illuminatus! (Page 173, Week 18)—where he was apparently drugged, abducted and subjected to all sorts of MK-ULTRA-style perversions straight out of A Clockwork Orange—Saul (or Barney Muldoon, or whoever he actually is now) finds himself in a hospital room (Page 189, Week 19) attended to by a doctor who informs him that he’s really Barney and that ‘Saul Goodman’ was actually a dual identity that Barney created to compensate for never being promoted to detective.
The doctor further informs Saul/Barney about certain details of his life, one of which is that his children are named Roger, Kerry and Greg, which is a certain nod to not only the founders of Discordianism—Greg Hill and Kerry Thornley—but also to Roger Lovin, who could be considered the third member of the Holy Trinity of Discordianism that haunted the New Orleans French Quarter during the early 1960s. The Discordian business card below illustrates that Lovin (aka Fang the Unwashed) had a major role in spreading the Discordian Gospel during this period and oversaw the French Quarter Cabal after Thornley and Hill returned to Cali in late 1965.
In many ways, Illuminatus! authors Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea seemed to be describing what happened to Kerry Thornley in the following passage:
…A few years ago, you started a game with your wife; she thought it was harmless at first and learned to her sorrow that it wasn’t. The game was, that you pretended to be a detective and, late at night, you would tell her about the important cases you were working on. Gradually, you built up to the most important case of all—the solution to all the assassinations in America during the past decade. They were all the work of a group called the Illuminati, who were surviving top level Nazis that had never been captured… —Illuminatus!, Page 189
This description of Saul/Barney’s apparent mental deterioration certainly relates to Kerry Thornley. During the late-60s, Kerry—in his writings—often parodied what he considered “paranoid” conspiracy theories, including the various Illuminati conspiracies at which he and RAW had such a high time poking fun. But after going through the Garrison meat grinder, Kerry came out on the other end with his head spun, at first thinking Garrison was totally off his rocker for believing that he (Kerry) was part of an insidious CIA funded homosexual thrill-kill plot (or something of that sort.)
However—as time passed—and Kerry began to reflect on his past (while enhancing those reflections with an occasional dose of LSD!), he started toying around with different theories to explain what had gone down with the JFK assassination, and how this related to his association with Oswald and the other disturbing string of synchronicities that occurred during his time in New Orleans—until eventually certain far-flung theories about Nazis and the Illuminati began to make more and more sense to him. And while he didn’t turn into Barney Muldoon per se, Kerry did develop a more paranoically inclined personality, as opposed to younger years when he was prone to be dismissive of “paranoids.”
Kerry’s growing paranoia (starting in the early-70s) was an outgrowth of his belief that he’d discovered the true assassins of JFK—or at least certain individuals that were involved in a plot to kill JFK, namely Gary Kirstein (aka Brother-in-Law) and Roderick “Slim” Brooks, a couple of shadowy characters Kerry met during the New Orleans period. According to a letter from Greg Hill to RAW dated September 1975, Slim Brooks was also an early member of the Discordian Society and was one of The Chosen Five who received the rare 1st edition of The Principia Discordia of which only five copies were produced (in accordance to the Law of Fives!).
It was long-held and universally believed that most—if not all—of those original sacred Five Copies were lost with the passage of time to mankind; that is until your humble author discovered the only surviving copy—Greg Hill’s personal copy—tucked away in the Discordian Archives for all these years and which now has been re-published, at long last, in the companion volume to this website, Historia Discordia: The Origins of the Discordian Society (Amazon). So get your copy now before it disappears again!
Hill and Thornley—as Discordian history instructs—moved to New Orleans in 1961, and at some point became friends with Roger Lovin, who Kerry later remembered as “…a dashing, talented and handsome con artist who was too shallow to settle into any one thing. But for years and years after he read the Principia, under his Discordian name of Fang the Unwashed, he consistently and with unswerving devotion to the task excommunicated every new person any of the rest of us initiated into the Discordian Society.”
On his first sojourn in New Orleans, Greg Hill only lived there a few months before moving back to Southern California, but Kerry lived in NOLA (for the most part) over the next three-and-a-half years before relocating to Arlington, Virginia in late 1964.
Sometime in ’64, Hill moved back to The French Quarter, which led to one of the most intense and productive periods in the early evolution of the Discordian Society—1964 and 1965—as documented in several dozens of letters in the Discordian Archives exchanged between Hill and Thornley.
The Early Discordians become famous for their humorous letters, and one of the funniest I’ve come across is this missive dictated by Roger Lovin (aka Fang The Unwashed) dated December 17, 1964, addressed to Greg Hill (aka Malaclypse The Younger), who appears to have been staying with Bob Newport in Chicago at the time.
While I’ve shared quite a bit in my books—and on this website—about Hill and Thornley, I’ve been reluctant to tackle Roger Lovin’s Discordian legacy just because it’s a pretty tangled web to attempt to unravel some of the more sordid aspects of his life.
Like Thornley, Lovin became ensnared by the Garrison investigation—although briefly and to a much lesser degree than Thornley. Garrison’s interest in Lovin was partly due to his association with the Discordian Society, which the New Orleans D.A. came to suspect was some sort of CIA front organization that had a hand in orchestrating Kennedy’s assassination. Hail Eris!
Lovin—from the stories I’ve heard—was a man of many talents: a writer, poet, musician—a silver-tongued devil and con man—who operated a French Quarter art gallery during the early-60s. From 1968/69, Lovin published a weekly New Orleans newspaper, The Ungarbled Word, that from time to time ran Discordian recruitment advertisements, in addition to articles by Hill and Thornley, and in particular, an ongoing series by Greg Hill entitled Etcetera Pacifica that gave a monthly run-down of what was happening with the West Coast counterculture scene.
Lovin later moved out West and worked as the environmental editor for the Los Angeles Free Press from 1969-73, as documented in this article from 1971.
During that same period, Lovin wrote and published pornography, maintaining contact with Greg Hill throughout. I found one letter in the Archives where Lovin offered his services to help Greg publish a mass market edition of Principia Discordia, although nothing ever came of this.
For the most part, though, Lovin was pretty much a Mystery Man to me, and the correspondences between he and Hill over the years—while colorful—were few and far between. When I asked some of the Early Discordians about him, they only vaguely remembered the name. At some point, I came across the following clipping which appeared in a 1979 edition of the Science Fiction fanzine Locus and hinted at certain darker aspects associated with Lovin.
While scouring the web, I came across other information which suggested that Lovin had gone to prison for these activities, although there was conflicting information, which of course can always be expected when the sources are various people posting different accounts to web forums.
At one point in the thread someone claiming to be Lovin’s sister said that the charges against her brother were true, and then posted a photo of herself with Lovin in his later years—after he had been released from prison—and stated that he had died of a heart attack in 1991. The photo indeed looked to be Roger Lovin, however these posts from his alleged sister (which I think legit) were later removed from the thread.
Your humble Discordian documenter has just discovered a “new” pope card in the Archives that apparently originated from the POEE Side Temple in Omaha, Nebraska, produced by The Green Ink Cabal, date unknown.
The unique feature of the card is the backside that includes 5 privileges which, of course, correspond to the fabled Law of Fives.