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February 18: This Day In Discordian History

Marquee for the RAW Meme-Orial, February 18, 2007. Courtesy of Tim Cridland.
On February 18, 2007, I had the privilege of attending what was dubbed The Robert Anton Wilson Cosmic Meme-Orial held at the Coconut Grove Ballroom in Santa Cruz, CA, the town where RAW lived the last couple decades of his life.

At the time, Louise Lacey was visiting Santa Cruz, so on the way I picked her up and gave her a lift to the event, which was located right off the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk where I’d spent so many days of my youth and teenage years. So it was nostalgic in that sense, conjuring up memories of days gone by, and also a sense of fond nostalgia about RAW’s influence on all of us Discordians attending the event. In many ways this day signaled the end of an era, although those in the crowd did not dwell on the maudlin, but to the contrary came and celebrated and laughed and lifted a glass (or two) to RAW’s passing into the land of We Know Not What.

RAW’s box of ashes, topped by the Golden Apple, February 18, 2007.
Courtesy of Tim Cridland.
As we entered the ballroom, RAW’s ashes were on display in a wooden box that was appropriately topped off with a Golden Apple. Louise stopped in her tracks and did a double take, recognizing it as the very same Golden Apple she’d given RAW a few years earlier at the premiere of the Maybe Logic documentary at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz back on July 23 of 2003. (July 23rd being a holy Discordian date that celebrates the rising of the star Sirius and RAW’s encounter with otherworldly entities. Maybe.) Outside during intermission, RAW had stepped out to have a cig when Louise presented him with said Golden Apple and recalled that he was completely enchanted with the gift, and couldn’t take his eyes off it as he cradled it in his hands. This was the last time that Louise saw him.

During the Meme-Orial, many took to the stage with their RAW remembrances, including his daughter, Christina, who shared his last message:

“I no longer claim to know anything, but I still have some persistent suspicions. My greatest suspicion holds that all my suspicions may prove wrong. Intelligence recognizes that nothing now seems impossible. Have a good, hearty laugh and do not dare to mourn me.”

The zine movement, in all its nostalgic glory. Left to right: Adam Gorightly, Tim Cridland, Kenn Thomas and Greg Bishop at the RAW Meme-Orial, February 18, 2007.
Courtesy of Tim Cridland.
The event was attended by my good friends Kenn Thomas of Steamshovel Press fame, The Excluded Middle’s Greg Bishop and Tim Cridland (aka Zamora The Torture King), who all, in one way or another, were touched by RAW’s work. Coming of age during the late-80s zine movement, it seemed RAW was a unifying force binding us all together, not only because he had penned such mind bending classics as Illuminatus! and Cosmic Trigger, but due as well to his optimistic and open minded outlook which seemed an inspiring path to follow.

To this end, Greg recalled how his life was literally saved when—during a period of deep depression—he fortunately discovered RAW’s writings about the loser and winner scripts, and immediately took them to head and heart, turning his world around.

Synchronicities were often abundant during personal interactions with RAW, as Kenn Thomas recalled:

“The twenty-three coincidences came up twice when RAW visited me in St. Louis way back in 1978. We were talking about it at lunch one day when the number we were given at the pizza place to wait for our order was 2323. Later, I took him to a radio interview in the nearby burb of Clayton, MO—near where George Noory does his show these days—and I pointed out that the name of the building where the radio station was located must have some mystical significance. It was called the Sevens Building. “Maybe,” he said, “and maybe so does that” and he pointed the top of the tall building across the street which had a large “23” marking its street address. RAW tells some version of this story on one of his videos, saying that the incident reflected a koan ‘Who is the Master who makes the grass green?’”

Poster for the RAW Meme-Orial.
Any decent memorial—as all good Irishmen and Discordians know—has a well stocked bar to which I soon made passage. After securing an ice cold Anchor Steam—and taking a long cool drawl thereof—I worked my way back through the crowd, in the process bumping into R.U. Sirius of Mondo 2000 fame. Though no meaningful words were exchanged between us during the course of our passage, we shared that knowing nod that only RAW initiates know, clinking our bottle necks together, a toast in cosmic unison, as each of us then continued moving through the crowd.

The next RAW initiate I encountered was his long time friend, Scott Apel, who spent a lot of time with Bob during his final days. Scott mentioned that, at one point, RAW had handed him a copy of The Prankster and The Conspiracy and said, “If you want to know what really happened with the early Discordian scene, read this book!”—which was a wonderful anecdote to hear.

There are some very cool clips from the RAW Meme-Orial at this YouTube playlist:

RAW’s ashes being tossed to the sea, and to Eris, February 18, 2007.
Courtesy of Tim Cridland.
Included is a stirring rendition of Auld Lasagna, as well as the procession where we were all given kazoos and such to blow upon and make mad music as we marched out to the beach to watch RAW’s ashes scattered to the sea, and to Eris.


2 replies on “February 18: This Day In Discordian History”

This article was beautifully done. Thanks, but I dunno about the math to prove I’m a Pope. That goes without saying. I first discovered RAW back in the dark ages, when I bought the Illuminati Trilogy (paid full price for a huge paperback, probably $2.98), and then I couldn’t get in to it. Never did read it, but through later encountering the writings of Adam Gorightly, I kicked myself for giving the fat paperback away. It had a really groovy cover, too.

Peace and chaos!

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