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L5P Memories

A hand-made postcard from Pope Christopher Wilhoite to Kerry Thornley (Grand Ballyhoo of Egypt), stamped 25 APR 1994. Courtesy of Christopher Wilhoite.
In The Prankster and the Conspiracy (Amazon), Chris Wilhoite—a wandering minstrel who made his way to Little Five Points (L5P), Atlanta in the early-90s—remembered how he first became acquainted with Kerry Thornley:

“I had just read the Illuminatus! Trilogy and was pondering what was what when I noticed the pages of a xeroxed novel about Oswald and JFK on the telephone poles in L5P. The last page had the name Kerry Thornley on it. Synchronicity #1. Around the same time, I noticed an unusual/ enigmatic/ groovy looking fellow in tie-died cotton who occasionally strolled through the park with the smile of a Buddha, and somehow I knew there was something special about him. One night, I was playing one of my songs on acoustic guitar in the park and this Buddhaesque being stopped and listened and paid me a compliment. I still didn’t catch his name. A friend had told me more about the mysterious author of the JFK sheets and said he’d written a book called Zenarchy, a name that appealed deeply to me, but I still didn’t match the person with the name.

“Then, one day a friend told me that Kerry Thornley had, in the course of one day, been called by Oliver Stone to be a consultant for the JFK film, (shortly afterward) had dual kidney failure and his landlady flipped a mental cog and kicked everybody out of the boarding house where he lived. So, Kerry needed a place to stay. I immediately volunteered space in my duplex. My friend told me to talk to Kerry, he was in front of A Capella Books, signing and selling his work. Who did I see in front of the store, but the groovy Buddha I had noticed before! I invited him to crash at my pad, and this became the beginning of a long and fruitful friendship.”

Chris bore witness to any number of Kerry’s surrealist pranks, such as one that occurred on Halloween morning of 1993:

I was living in a VW campervan behind a restaurant in L5P. I had just had breakfast and was standing at the corner across from the park, when Kerry comes walking from the far end of the square, wearing a white cloak with a hood and carrying a sign reading “World Will End SOON. Get your tickets NOW!” As he passed down the street, snowflakes (unseasonal for Oct 31 in Atlanta) began to fall right behind Kerry, and as he passed across my field of vision, the snow came in like a curtain drawn by Kerry. My friend Wolf, standing directly behind me said: “Yep, hell just froze over!”

One day, Kerry and Chris were hanging out in front of the Tête-à-Tête Café in L5P with a wooden box full of copies of The Principia Discordia and Zenarchy, which Kerry was selling/giving away. (Buyer: “How much?” Kerry: “How much do you have?” Buyer: “A quarter.” Kerry: “That’s plenty!”) On Kerry’s wooden box was a sign that said: Principia Discordia—much funnier than the bible!

At one point, a Christian zealot happened by, noticed Kerry’s sign and started shouting, “Much funnier than the Bible!? The Bible’s not funny!” In response, a local zealous Marxist—seated behind Kerry and Chris—jumped up and started shouting down the Christian. Kerry, smiling, closed his box and walked away, with Chris following after, exclaiming: ”Hail Eris! All Hail Discordia!”

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