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Visionary artist and genius Paul Laffoley has died
07:03 pm


Paul Laffoley


“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be . . .  “

Henry David Thoreau

I knew this day was coming, and now that it’s here, it absolutely sucks as much as I thought it would: It is with great sadness that I report that the great genius artist and thinker Paul Laffoley is dead. He was 75.

A few weeks ago I got an email from my close friend Douglas Walla, Paul’s longtime gallerist letting me know that Paul had a heart attack and was in the hospital in Boston and that I might want to give him a call. Like immediately. I did and we spoke for about an hour, mostly chit-chat about his health and his upcoming book and then we talked about the architecture at the University of Cincinnati’s campus. He coughed like crazy—really, really HARD coughs that rattled his chest, I could practically feel the spittle hitting my eardrum through the telephone. Apparently he’d coughed so hard that he’d given himself a heart attack.

The problem was, this hacking cough was something, that he’d been, as he put it, “working on my entire life.” The cough was a permanent condition, in other words, it wasn’t going to go away. Already in poor health for many years—he had an amputated leg, diabetes and heart problems—the combination of this persistent HARD cough and congestive heart failure was the kind of “Catch 22” that meant he wasn’t going to be long for this world.

I asked him if the nurses were treating him well. He said yes, but I teased him that I wanted to speak to the one who had just entered the room, so that I could explain to her how “important” her charge was. “Oh you don’t have to do that,” he said.

I laughed: “Hey, look what happened to Andy Warhol. It couldn’t hurt!”

Douglas Walla let me know a week or so ago that Paul had entered hospice care. He died quietly today.

The visionary artist and luminary, Paul Laffoley, has died today after a long battle with congestive heart failure. He had an extraordinary grasp of multiple fields of knowledge compulsively pursing interests that often lead him into uncharted territory. His complex theoretical constructs were uniquely presented in highly detailed mandala-like canvases largely scaled to Fibonacci’s golden ratio. While an active participant in numerous speculative organizations including his own Boston Visionary Cell since the early 70s, his work began to attract an increasing following in his late career with shows at the Palais de Tokyo (2009), Hamburger Bahnhof (2011), Hayward Gallery, London, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (2013). The first book on Laffoley’s oeuvre was The Phenomenology of Revelation published by Kent Fine Art in 1989, followed by several subsequent publications beginning with his first retrospective organized by the Austin Museum of Art (1999).

Forthcoming in March of 2016, the University of Chicago Press will be releasing the long awaited book entitled The Essential Paul Laffoley. He was a kind and generous giant, and he will be sorely missed by all of us.

Today the world lost one of its greatest minds, but it might be a few years before the world realizes this. I am gratified to know that although Paul didn’t live long enough to see the publication of the catalogue raisonné of his work, he did see the galley proofs. Doug Walla worked for decades, really, on this book and it will be an intellectual and cultural EVENT when it’s published next year, mark my words. Many years ago, I can recall discussing Paul with Doug and he told me that what drove him so hard to develop Paul’s career is how tragic it would have been if Paul died in obscurity, and was regarded historically as an “enigma” or as an outsider artist, someone like Henry Darger instead of the Ivy League-educated polymath “Sci-Fi Leonardo” that he truly was. As of today there are several books that have been published about Paul Laffoley, and there will be many more in the future and many doctoral dissertations that will be written about him. I’m sure he died with the satisfaction that his work was not only valued by mankind, but will live on with greater notoriety after his passing.

I don’t have any more words. I lost a friend today, someone I greatly admired and loved. More importantly, the world lost a great genius. The New York Times recently called Paul Laffoley “one of the most unusual creative minds of our time.”

Too true. And now he’s gone.

An overview of Paul Laffoley’s work, courtesy of yours truly…

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Sympathy For The Devil’: The True Story of The Process Church of the Final Judgment

The Secret Teachings Of Sam Walton

How do we give form to the formless? How do we name that which is unnameable? How do we describe the indescribable? These are challenges that religion, the occult and magic have addressed since humanity first appeared on this planet. In an effort to communicate the divine, the transcendent, the psychedelic, we use devices like art and ritual. We cloak the mystical in words and images in the same way that GOD cloaks itself in the visible world to tell its story. Is life a great metaphor representing something that we cannot see, but know is there? Anyone who has had a “spiritual” experience has had a glimpse into, or a sense of, something greater that we are all a part of. Some go toward this experience alone—St. John or Jesus. Some go as a group, feeling that the odds are better that someone among them will serve as antennae, to dial into the radio of the gods and share the signal. These groups require focus and ceremony (a process) in order to cement the bonds of community, to attain a group consciousness that elevates one and all. We see this kind of collective mindset in everything from sports to business teams to religious organizations. But communities we don’t understand, that we deem weird or esoteric, we pejoratively call “cults.” The fervent devotion of sports fans, the mind-obliterating, soul-destroying Wal-Mart cheer forced upon its employees, the idolization of Steve Jobs and sheep-like behavior of Deadheads, Ben Carson and his groupies for God, all have cult-like aspects to them. But we dare not call them cults. We reserve the word to marginalize and demonize spiritual movements we do not understand or forms of art considered degenerate. “Cult” is a dirty word.

Confessions Of A Teenage Hippie Pervert

I’ve often wondered if I’ve ever been a cult member. During the Summer Of Love I lived in the Haight with a dozen or more teenagers my age who dropped acid, fucked each other and danced to psychedelic music in the glow of black lights and incense haze. We chanted “OM” and passed joints and waited for some kind of magic to happen. And it was happening. It just wasn’t the dramatic type of magic we were hoping for. I do think we collectively levitated once. I lived in a Los Gatos home owned by an ordained priest of The Church Of Tomorrow. He had the best LSD and his stream of consciousness talks seemed to be filled with all kinds of mindblowing heaviness. He had a gravitational pull that seemed superhuman. Young beautiful women flocked to him and I flocked to them. Was this a cult or was it just a groovy hangout? I lived in L.A. in 1967 and worked for a telemarketing agency (definitely a cult) and my young longhaired co-workers were the kinds of Southern California hippies that seemed more like extras from Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls than actual hippies. I spent a night tripping with them in a suburban ranch house and all they talked about was having rough sex with each other involving beatings, leather and whips. I love all kinds of sex, but this talk was brutal, chilling. The words coming out of their mouths were ugly,  flailing through the room like syntactical succubi. What the fuck was I hearing? I fled the scene and ended up having a seriously intense trip in a telephone booth trying to call the only other people I knew in L.A. to come rescue me.

To this day I’m not sure that what I experienced with those “kinky perverts” actually happened. I may have been projecting my id into the situation, my repressed fantasies. After all I was raised in one of the biggest cults of them all, Catholicism. Were they a sex cult? Was what I was hearing all in my own head. Cults are crazy that way. They’re open to interpretation and are often victims of what people think they’re perceiving as opposed to what’s actually happening. Cults are often the repository for the desires we fear. And some cults are created to fuck with those fears, fantasies and projections.

Altamont: Hitler’s Woodstock

The French surrealists and dadaists employed occult imagery to shake up the status quo.They were called a “movement.” They could have just as easily been called a cult. New York’s Living Theatre used confrontational ceremony and transgressive ritual to tear apart the restraints that bound their audiences to dead and archaic modes of thinking. As a theater group, they worked intensely and constantly with each other and often lived communally. Were they a cult? Was Altamont the biggest black mass ever held and were those of us who attended unwitting members of some kind of Satanic sacrifice? (I was there. It sure looked like Hell to me.) Is Facebook the ultimate cult, dwarfing any cult or religion known to man or woman, unstoppable in its indoctrination of every living breathing human being on this earth? I see more devotion directed toward Facebook than any religion I’ve ever encountered. More people are facing their monitor screens than Mecca or reading from their Bibles.

The Living Theatre

Facebook: The Bible Of The Damned

Dr. Timothy Leary was vilified for turning on a generation of young people to the vast beauty and possibilities of their own minds. Mark Zuckerberg is celebrated for reducing our consciousness to the dimensions of a 14-inch screen filled with pictures of food, cats, obituary notices and forlorn pictures of aging rock and rollers. Jesus (who had a cult of just 12) was crucified for being a weirdo. Joel Osteen has made a fortune playing Jesus in a Brooks Brothers suit. Given the choice between Aleister Crowley   or Ted Cruz for President, The Beast gets my vote. I always go with the Devil I know. They turned David Koresh and a bunch of innocent children torched to a pile of ash and yet war criminal Dick Cheney still walks among us, his mechanical heart still beating, his rictus smirk still mocking us all. Donald Rumsfeld lived in Taos, New Mexico within spitting distance of where Marshall Applewhite leader of the Heaven’s Gate suicide cult ran a health food restaurant. Did Rummy eat Beezlebub’s bean sprouts? Did he dream of weapons of mass destruction hurtling toward us like a comet. In a world where companies make billions selling video games (talk about cults) in which teenage boys roleplay as carjackers, murderers and thugs, a kid named Ahmed Mohamed was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school. The mass hypnosis taking place in this world right now makes Charles Manson look about as intimidating as Chuck Woolery. Most Americans have been, and will continue to vote for a government that is actively working against their best interests. Under what spell have we fallen? We follow blindly, faithfully, surrendering our will to higher powers, both political and religious. Welcome to the biggest cult of them all: the United States Of America. Rant over.

Crazy Wisdom Drove Me Crazy

Back in simpler days when a cult was a cult and easily identifiable—they wore robes or funny hats—a group of young men and women gathered together in 60s London to form The Process, a quasi-religious group that were part spiritual seekers, part performance art and more than a little bit rock and roll. They had long hair, were beautiful and dressed like priests styled by a Carnaby Street tailor. Their methods were a mashup of Scientology, occultism, psychedelia, pop culture and dada. The members of The Process Church Of The Final Judgement were genuinely on a path to find out the answers to life’s most profound questions: how did we get here, what are supposed to do here and where the fuck are we going? But unlike most religious folk, the members of The Process realized that the journey was the goal and didn’t have to be deadly serious. The Process was all about the process. Enjoy it. In many respects it resembled Chogyam Trungpa’s teachings on crazy wisdom. I was a student of Trungpa’s. From an idiot’s point of view, Trungpa was a cult leader.

Chogyam Trungpa

Attack Of The Hooded Snuffoids

In their zeal to shake things up, The Process occasionally went off the deep end and this is where they ran into problems. People, particularly the British press, could not separate the theatrical from the real. And the The Process was very theatrical. Like Antonin Artaud or Andy Kaufman, The Process was adept at elaborate mindfucking. They were the mystical turd in the very bland punch bowl of British society. In mocking religious hypocrisy, they were often mistaken for being the very thing they were mocking. Their shock tactics often backfired. Surrounding themselves with the iconography of Satanism was a heavy metal move years before Black Sabbath had ever released a record. But try explaining that to the tabloids who called them Satan worshippers and sex deviants. Or worse, Ed Sanders’ hate-filled description of The Process as “hooded snuffoids” and “an English occult society dedicated to observing and aiding the end of the world by stirring up murder, violence and chaos, and dedicated to the proposition that they shall survive the gore as the chosen people.” I’m as big a Fugs fan as anyone out there, but Sanders really missed the irony of him, of all people, writing this shit. Sanders’ band The Fugs were themselves quite skilled in the art of the mindfuck. Using majikal incantations to Egyptian gods, The Fugs attempted to levitate the Pentagon in protest of the Vietnam war. When you’ve successfully conned a con artist like Ed Sanders, you’ve managed something to be quite proud of.

Power to The Process. And Ed, to quote the title of your once infamous literary ‘zine, fuck you.

Ed Sanders’ exorcism chant
Skinny Puppy Housebroken By Satan

While I’m not an expert on any of this cult stuff, like most people, I find it immensely fascinating. The Manson Family creeps me out in ways that deeply disturb me, although groups like The Source, The Process and even Scientology provide me the kind of amusement that diffuses some of the darker shit. If you want to delve further into The Process from the point of view of someone who knows far more than me and does it objectively and with just enough wit and empathy, check out filmmaker Neil Edwards’ insightful and thoroughly entertaining new documentary Sympathy For The Devil. Full of interviews with surviving members of The Process and various experts in the field of all things “cult,” Edwards’ film will introduce you to the real truth behind the head games, rumors, bullshit and theater. And as Edwards told me, like its subject, the movie is a work in progress. There is more to be told and probably more that will never be told.

After the jump, an interview with director Neil Edwards…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
‘Seven Up’: The mind-expanding Krautrock album Timothy Leary made on the run from the law

The tale of acid sage Dr. Timothy Leary’s prison escape and subsequent exile is among the most amusing stories in the annals of drug culture lore—though sentenced to an absurd twenty years for utterly petty offenses including possession of a couple of roaches, Leary was able to game the prison system: as a reputable Harvard psychologist, it happened that he himself had designed the psychological examinations he was given by prison administrators to determine his security and work situations. He got himself assigned to a cushy gardening job in a minimum security facility, from which he handily escaped, issuing an outlandish revolutionary screed to taunt authorities shortly after he fled. Via a series of sneaks involving the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, an arms dealer, and a socialite whom he eventually married (how has this not been a TV mini-series yet? Get on this, Netflix…) Leary ended up in Switzerland, where he met with the German Kosmiche band Ash Ra Tempel, with whom he recorded the album Seven Up.

Formed by musicians from Eruption and Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel mostly shunned structured songs in favor of lengthy and often downright fierce improvisations. Their albums typically featured two side-length compositions, a feral freakout on side one, and a more ambient, electronics-driven suite on the flip, presumably to help sand the edges off from side one. From Peter Buckley’s Rough Guide Rock:

Manuel Göttsching (guitar) and Hartmut Enke (bass) had played together in various psychedelic blues and pop combos for a few years before they formed Ash Ra Tempel in August 1970 with drummer/keyboardist Klaus Schultz, who had just left Tangerine Dream. The most cosmic of the Krautrock bands, Ash Ra Tempel became legendary for their wild improvisational free-form live jams, influenced by Pink Floyd but eschewing songs to take the concept of space-rock much further, enhanced by both Schultz’s and Gottsching’s interest in experimental electronic music.

Schultz soon left for a solo career but several other musicians passed through the group’s revolving door, and with some of them Göttsching and Enke recorded the amazing Schwingungen (1972). With the idea of recording the ultimate psychedelic trip, Ohr label-head Rolf Kaiser next took Ash Ra Tempel to Switzerland to party endlessly and to record the album Seven Up with LSD guru Timothy Leary, who was living there in exile. The results were a more song-orientated first section, with Leary singing, followed by several conventional rock songs melded into a single track divided by spacey electronic segues.

More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Paul Laffoley: Penetrating the Kitsch Barrier
03:27 pm


Paul Laffoley
Douglas Walla

For those of you lucky to be in NYC this month, there’s an especially exciting new Paul Laffoley exhibit opening at Kent Fine Art (210 Eleventh Ave between 24th and 25th) in Chelsea.

“The Force Structure of the Mystical Experience” will provide a rare glimpse at some of Laffoley’s seldom-seen models and sculptures, as well as some early work from the 1960s and a few key paintings not exhibited in recent years. The artist will be present at the gallery on September 10, 11, and 12th.

An online publication for the show was edited by Douglas Walla with detailed notes from Paul Laffoley on each piece. I wrote the intro, which follows. If you would like to look at the entire full-color 132 page PDF catalog, it can be downloaded here.

Penetrating the Kitsch Barrier

How does one approach the work of Paul Laffoley?  It’s not really like anything else and doesn’t fit neatly into any easy category that the art world routinely employs.  How do you even begin to wrap your head around the vastness of his cosmic vision?

He’s not merely a painter whose work sells for six figures and has been exhibited internationally at some of the world’s best and most forward-­thinking museums, or the subject of several books, TV segments, newspaper and magazine articles. He’s also a Harvard-­trained architect who has dreamt up living buildings grown from seeds and a bridge connecting the Moon and the Earth. A philosopher. An alchemist. A science fiction-style inventor of a time machine. He speaks Latin, Greek, French, German and several other languages. Laffoley majored in the classics as an undergrad at Brown and is an expert on the most cutting­ edge and far­ out worlds of scientific discovery. I think he’s one of the great living geniuses of our time and I know that I’m not alone in that assessment.

Paul once detailed an erudite impromptu dinnertime dissertation on modern engineering by informing me that each and every futuristic invention anticipated by Jules Verne had been realized (submarines, rocket ships, space travel, etc) and that science fiction really stopped being “prophetic” around the mid 20th­century, with anything a science fiction writer could dream up eventually getting “invented” and put into mass production by a large corporation. (“How closely did the communicators on Star Trek anticipate the flip phone?” he asked.) Scoff if you will at his schematic for a gigantic genetically engineered ectoplasmic jellyfish that allows for communication with not only the dead, but the yet­-to-be­-born (for the purpose of intergenerational planning which would avert catastrophes), Leonardo’s cronies probably laughed at that crazy thing he sketched out back in the day that resembles our modern-­day helicopters. It’s all relative.

Once I described Paul in print as a Bodhisattva reincarnated in the form of a mild-mannered sci­ fi-­loving Boston architect, but years later (although I still see some value in my earlier call) I’d rather ask the reader to imagine what Buckminster Fuller would have done if he were a fine artist in addition to all that other cool stuff he got up to.

THE PSYCHOKENETIC WATER BALANCE: A DEVICE FOR TESTING PSYCHOKENESIS, 1980. Homage to: Isamu Noguchi [1904-1988] and Robert Hare [1781 – 1858]. Oil, acrylic, wood, wire mesh, string, shells and water. Fully hand carved, unique, 18 ½ x 35 x 17 1/2 in. 47 x 89 x 44.5 cm.
This is my favorite Paul Laffoley story and I think it’s particularly revealing about the way his beautiful mind works:

It was late February of 2000. I arrived home at my West Village apartment one evening to find a package waiting for me from Paul containing a most peculiar object, by name, “The Anti­kitschkitron” a “device for penetrating the kitsch barrier.” It was a small box, hand­made, black-­painted wood save for the top, which was a clear plastic sheet with a plastic bubble that read “TIME DILATION” in the Helvetica press type Laffoley is known for using. Inside were all sorts of light­-emitting diodes, circuitry, electronic capacitors and exposed wiring—­­in other words, the machine’s guts were plainly visible­­ and a coil of copper wire coming out the top with a circular sun-­like ornament affixed to it like exposed bicycle tire spokes. It seemed like something that might transmit a “beam” of an electronic or cosmic nature.

The device, which resembled some sort of curious text­-covered mutant dowsing machine, or a Star Trek version of one of Joseph Cornell’s boxes crossed with a metal detector. On the top was a big red clunky on/off switch.

Thrilled by this incredible gift, I immediately picked up the phone and dialed Paul in Boston. The ritual when calling him is that he screens all of his calls. The voice on the outgoing message is not Paul’s, and the caller is informed that he or she have reached the Boston Visionary Cell and to please leave a message after the beep—a drill developed when avoiding credit card collection agencies as he once humorously admitted to me. I started to leave a message, Paul picked up right away and I started gushing my gratitude about the amazingly weird—and absolutely beautiful—object/device that I was holding in my hand. What a thrillingly strange thing to get in the mail, I’m sure you’ll agree, but at this point I noticed that there was no obvious power source.

“Where do you put the battery?” I innocently inquired.

“Oh, there’s no battery,” he said with his strong, slightly stuttering Bostonian accent. “You know my concept of the… a… the uh.. luxe theater of the mind? Well it’s like that. You have to interact with the device and connect the circuitry to your mind, um, uh, in that way.”

I paused for a moment before mentally recalibrating and moving myself as much as possible into Paul’s philosophical framework before (I thought) redeeming myself with “Okay, so it’s like like Yoko Ono’s “Box of Smile” where you open it up, you see that there is a mirror inside and invariably everyone who interacts with the piece smiles, right?”

“Well, yes…” he said slowly, indicating a “yes” that was about to be uniquely qualified, “...but with my device, you have to actually turn it on.”

The Essential Paul Laffoley: Works from the Boston Visionary Cell, an oversized, comprehensive, annotated catalogue raisonné edited by Laffoley’s longtime friend and gallerist Douglas Walla, with several essays by the artist and others, will be published by the University of Chicago Press in Spring 2016. I have a B&W print-out of the book and it’s one of the most exciting and stunning art books I’ve ever seen. Mark my words, it’ll be a cultural event when this book comes out. It’s TIME for it.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Juror wears Metallica ‘electric chair’ shirt to Aurora theater murder trial
01:25 pm

Stupid or Evil?


There’s a metalhead in the jury box of the Aurora mass shooting trial and the news is on it!

Colorado’s News 9 reports that an alternate juror in the mass murder trial against James Holmes wore a Metallica Ride The Lightning t-shirt which may have been in violation of a court order banning display of clothing which may influence the jury.

Neither the judge nor lawyers appeared to notice the shirt worn by juror 983, which features bolts of lightning hitting an empty electric chair on the front and the skeletal remains of a prisoner being electrocuted on the back side.

Judge Carlos Samour has “strictly prohibited” from his courtroom the “display of insignias, symbols, pictures, clothing, or any other items that may influence the jury” in an order that appears on a laminated placard in front of every spectator seat in court.

Since the matter was never brought up on the record Thursday, we don’t know whether the judge would have found the attire in violation of his order.

On Thursday, the 12 deliberating jurors delivered a verdict on aggravating factors, the first of three possible phases in the death penalty sentencing hearing.

Juror 983, who has sported heavy-metal themed tees in court before, is not on the panel of 12, but could be called on to deliberate if a juror should be excused for any reason.

The Metallica track “Ride The Lightning” is written from the point of view of a prisoner awaiting death by electrocution. According to James Hetfield, the song “was not a criticism of capital punishment, which I’m actually a supporter of. Rather, it’s simply about a man who faces death in the electric chair for a crime he didn’t commit.”

We’re guessing Juror 983 didn’t put that much thought into it.

We’d like to see “justice for all” in this case.

Via: News 9

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
‘Real total war has become information war’: ‘This Is Marshall McLuhan’ wild experimental NBC TV doc
04:01 pm


Marshall McLuhan

In the 60s and the 70s, Marshall McLuhan, the pithy and eminently quotable Canadian philosopher of media and electronic communications occupied a rarefied niche (along with R. Buckminster Fuller) that really doesn’t seem to exist much in American culture anymore, that of the “public intellectual.” More to the point, McLuhan, who never met a TV camera he didn’t take an immediate liking to, was an intellectual celebrity.

Marshall McLuhan was once such a ubiquitous part of the media landscape that you could turn on the TV and see him hamming it up on the Today show or read Sunday funnies where cartoon characters debated his ideas. McLuhan even appeared as himself, employed as a human punchline in Woody Allen’s Oscar-winning Annie Hall. These days only someone like Slavoj Žižek has anything even close to that same sort of “smart guy” star power, but it’s difficult to imagine NBC devoting an entire hour to his work, like they did with 1967’s This Is Marshall McLuhan: The Medium Is the Massage.

An episode of the NBC Experiment in Television series, this was in fact pretty experimental stuff. A quasi-documentary cum visual essay (based on McLuhan and graphic designer Quentin Fiore’s best-selling coffee table book, The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects) it was heady and decidedly avant garde programming for middle America in 1967. Just how avant garde was it you ask? Well, it’s got Nam June Paik and Charlotte Moorman in it for starters. She’s not playing her cello topless here of course, but is seen wrapped in plastic. Artist Allan Kaprow, father of “the Happening” also makes an appearance. There’s a long quoted passage from John Cage and the piece is littered with Pop art trappings and evocative visuals. The producers, Ernest Pintoff and Guy Fraumeni, were obviously making a sincere effort to be forward-thinking. And it was, and is still very much a satisfying viewing experience nearly half a century later. The only thing I can think of today that would be similar in any way would be one of Adam Curtis’ films. (There’s one section where the VO discusses how all pervasive the mediasphere is on all of our lives while onscreen hands are seen kneading dough as a stand-in for our collective brains. It practically screams Adam Curtis.)

McLuhan reveals that many of the subjects he investigates are things that he in fact finds irritating and exasperating, causing him to wish to mentally “take apart” things like television and radio. It’s might seem counterintuitive to view him as a Luddite, yet here he all but describes himself that way (which makes him even more fascinating, if you ask me.)

Topics include the “causes” of go-go dancing and “the discothèque,” the passing of one style of humor in favor of one favored by younger people (Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart and Bill “My name — José Jiménez” Dana are shown as examples of the new!), how politics had become show business, why teens often seek out corporate involvement for their fashion trends, the influence of the Beatles, Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman and Pablo Picasso, how images of abundance (things as commonplace to us as refrigerators) seen worldwide via our television programs would have inevitable and far-reaching consequences in poorer nations who would perceive themselves as deprived of something which they would then aspire to.

The Velvet Underground and Nico make an appearance in McLuhan and Fiore’s book in this two page spread.

We hear McLuhan’s blunt musings on the Vietnam War, the first televised war, which the nation was then in the middle of. Also touched upon is how the media revolution would eliminate entire classes of jobs. That would have seemed an eerie thought at the time, a sci-fi prediction if you will, but flash forward to today and we’re living in that future.

As Tom Wolfe once asked “What…if…he…is…right?” In retrospect, McLuhan was right about practically everything! From the perch of nearly fifty years ago, he was extraordinarily prescient. His track record as a futurist is much better than… well, anyone’s, when you get right down to it.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Dr. Timothy Leary, MTV VJ
08:55 am


Timothy Leary

In 1987, Dr. Timothy Leary paid a visit to MTV to be a guest VJ. He had a few more IQ points than some of their regular contributors. It’s a treat to hear him set up the video for Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”:

Now this is a real heavy one—I don’t know what this means. It has something to do with the third world and the exploitation by the first world and our hopes that the third world will get behind the camera and start becoming part of the cybernetic age. I don’t know. Watch it and make up your own mind. It’s a good tune.

Leary also talks about playing percussion on “Give Peace A Chance,” shows off some early CGI in the video for “Hard Woman” from Mick Jagger’s unloved She’s the Boss, and shares his thoughts on Nancy Reagan’s drug policy. It ends with a spectacular Ike and Tina Turner rendition of “Proud Mary” that’s worth sticking around for.

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘The heaviest dude I ever met’: Another side of the Father Yod and The Source Family saga
11:35 am


Father Yod
The Source Family

yod and followers
I’ve never been much of a joiner. Working in groups, team sports, board games even, have never really been the most appealing things to me. I’m fiercely independent and intentionally contrarian at times even to my own detriment, making me probably the least suitable candidate for communal living in the world (let alone religious cult membership). This does not mean I don’t find the whole phenomenon fascinating on some level, especially when we’re talking about the high level psychedelics of The Source Family.

As many of you are very well aware, The Source Family, the great 2012 documentary directed by Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille, compellingly lays out the story of that otherworldly “Aquarian tribe” of white-robed mystics searching for “God Consciousness” on the fringes of 70’s L.A. counterculture. Famously, the group made some of the strangest, most sought-after and sometimes straight-up creepy psychedelic recordings the world has ever heard while running the organically charged Source Restaurant in L.A. in order to finance the entire metaphysical enterprise under the spiritual tutelage of one Jim Baker (aka Father Yod, aka Ya Ho Wha).

But, if the 2013 doc didn’t already supply you with everything you felt like you needed to know about the Source Family, and if you’ve already read The Source: The Untold Story of Father Yod, Ya Ho Wha 13 and The Source Family then the two-and-a-half hour film below is sure to help you fill in a few more blanks. A student film project created in conjunction with cooperative members of The Source Family and made a decade before the 2012 film, this one is called Revisiting Father and the Source Family. A very young looking Evan Wells directed it, and lets not kid ourselves here, it could use some editing. But give the guy a break! He was still in schooll after all, and the film is still very much worth watching if this kind of thing is your bag. Many of the same folks from the 2012 The Source Family documentary speak their minds here but there are also several interviews with family members who don’t show up in the later movie. What the film lacks in slick production, it makes up for in raw, in-depth interview footage of people telling honest, wild tales from the inner circle as it were.

More insane stories about 6’ 6” family spiritual leader, Jim Baker, whom one former family member calls “The heaviest dude I ever met,” pervade the film. We get some additional information about Baker’s supposed military conquests including one completely over-the-top incident in which Father Yod claimed to have shot down a whole a bevvy of attacking Japanese fighter pilots from the deck of a sinking navy ship in his “former life.” The general attitude towards the guy is “Man, you couldn’t make this shit up if you tried.”

The sounds of the family band, sometimes called Ya Ho Wa 13 are prominent in the film and the utopian hopes for spreading the wild garage band’s message around the world are discussed in depth. Baker’s business acumen and even flaunting of monetary gain as an avenue to spiritual freedom is also explored once again and additional stories appear from the Source Restaurant which was one of the first organic dining establishments in the country and which supposedly made more money per square foot than any restaurant in the United States during a certain period in the ‘70s.

Revisiting Father and the Source Family also takes a look at what some people saw as the “spiritual snobbery” of the fringe group (everybody had to be beautiful) and the inherent lifestyle conflicts contained within it (Baker eventually took on thirteen wives). This film goes into far more detail about what some would call the inevitable fracturing of the group than the 2013 film, and there’s definitely an acknowledgement by some of the interviewees that a lot of people are embarrassed to admit that they were ever a part of the whole thing.

One striking thing about both films though is that some of the former members of the Source Family seem to have never really left. Many of those interviewed continue to refer to Baker as “Father” without a hint of irony. Some people will of course say that they were simply brainwashed robots looking for a father figure they never had, making them ripe for the drug-fueled ravings of an out-of-control megalomaniac. That could very well have been the case for some. But others clearly believe that they actually discovered something in the Source Family that was so goddamned enlightening that the average human being will never fully get it, a sentiment that’s expressed again and again throughout both dialogues. I have no idea, but they speak with a matter-of-fact ease about a chosen lifestyle that would absolutely push the limits of what most people’s accepted social mores could bare, and that makes these first-person testimonies fascinating to watch one way or the other. 

Drag City have recently released two Source Family albums—Savage Sons of Ya Ho Wa and Kohutek—on vinyl for the first time since the 1970s.

Posted by Jason Schafer | Leave a comment
‘Bight of the Twin’: Update on Genesis Breyer P-Orridge’s Amazing African Adventures!

As many of you know, all around icon Genesis Breyer P-Orridge has been spending much time working and filming with Hazel Hill McCarthy III on a truly eye opening project. How better to understand than in this message from Genesis in her own words:

“We just got back from touring followed by two weeks of filming in Benin, West Africa with Hazel Hill McCarthy III and crew. The film “BIGHT OF THE TWIN” should debunk a lot of misguided trashy Hollywood “Zombie” entertainment that has deeply generated an essentially destructive and wholly inaccurate idea/meme attached now, so strongly in many peoples minds.

We are so jet lagged yet also so inspired by Ouidah, in Benin. Statistics show something phenomenal.

As we understand it, the average number of sets of twins per thousand, worldwide comes out at four sets of twins per one thousand B-Earths. In Benin the average number of twin B-Earths per one thousand is around twenty five to forty! Nobody has yet found a genetic nor dietary explanation. So as our search for the “Mother story”, the oldest witness to intelligence and belief developing in humanEs led us there. We were already referring to “twins” in the context of PANDROGENY. Two beings make a third being that is the two individuals immersed and merged into each other. Hazel discovered that Sept-October in Ouidah is a very rare Festival of Twins, both those who die at B-Earth or soon after, and those still living who maintain by ritual, the memories of their twin (triplet,etc) into daily life. Voodu has been practiced continuously there for ten, twenty, even more thousands of y-eras ago. Their Creation myths include a Supreme Being MauLissa. Half male-half female.The male Mau is represented by a python (a serpent) the female Lissa is represented by a chameleon.

For ongoing information PLEASE go to the site We are now in possession (no pun intended) of approximately ninety hours of incredible footage, much never witnessed or filmed before. Plus interviews with Priestesses, “DAH"s (high priests) and many many more key people. We need to raise money to edit a distribution master, and cover all those edit suite hours etc. SO PLEASE go to where we are trying to raise the needed funds asap. We used Kickstarter to raise funds to return to Benin for the twins festival and it worked. We reached our goal, thanks to all of you! Quite literally, your contributions, no matter how large or small ALL force the hand of chance so that this film can be completed and happen as a media-entity, allowing this amazing story to be told, perhaps, by learning of our early days of consciousness, of the essential origin of this bizarre, yet beautiful species, yet also a mundane and brutal species. Perhaps in the Mother story is a truth, a revelation that WILL allow us to adjust our behaviors, so we all save ourselves. Conscious evolution can only happen en masse. Small pockets of alternative are a seed, a source, a “virus” as Burroughs used to say. We will see, or future generations will curse us for our lethargy and indifference to the writing on the wall. “PLEASE DON’T PISS HERE.”   

Genesis BREYER P-ORRIDGE NYC, September 2014.”


Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
Cognitive Dissonance: Paul Krassner’s ‘Fuck Communism’ banner, 1963
01:54 pm


Paul Krassner
The Realist

Fuck Communism
Paul Krassner started his trailblazing periodical of radical countercultural satire, The Realist, in 1959 as a reaction to what he saw as a lack of humorous political commentary targeting the sometimes ridiculous, often ominous issues of the day.  His intention was to create sort of an adult MAD magazine, a publication to which he was frequent contributor.  The Realist became one of the most celebrated underground publications of all time and, with the exception of a hiatus between 1974 and 1985, remained in print until 2001.

Krassner himself was not only the driving force behind the The Realist but was also a child violin prodigy, a founding member of the YIPPIES, a stand-up comedian and an all-around pretty damned funny guy. If you’re not familiar with Krassner’s sense of humor, you could find worst places to start than The Realist’s “FUCK COMMUNISM” poster published in 1963.

The poster in question designed by long-time MAD magazine art director and Realist contributor John Francis Putnam was meant to be not only hilarious, but also a linguistic conundrum to the knee-jerk set.  You know “Better dead than red and all, but the F-word is just so filthy.” 

Here’s Kurt Vonnegut addressing the poster in his forward to Krassner’s 1996 collection entitled The Winner of the Slow Bicycle Race: The Satirical Writings of Paul Krassner:

Paul Krassner …  in 1963 created a miracle of compressed intelligence nearly as admirable for potent simplicity, in my opinion, as Einstein’s e=mc2.  With the Vietnam War going on, and with its critics discounted and scorned by the government and the mass media, Krassner put on sale a red, white and blue poster that said FUCK COMMUNISM.

At the beginning of the 1960s, FUCK was believed to be so full of bad magic as to be unprintable. COMMUNISM was to millions the name of the most loathsome evil imaginable.  To call an American a communist was like calling somebody a Jew in Nazi Germany.  By having FUCK and COMMUNISM fight it out in a single sentence, Krassner wasn’t merely being funny as heck.  He was demonstrating how preposterous it was for so many people to be responding to both words with such cockamamie Pavlovian fear and alarm.

Realist Krassner Interview
A FUCK COMMUNISM bumper sticker was also released. Krassner said if anyone had a problem with it, the critic should be told to “Go back to Russia, you Commie lover.”

You can find the entire Realist Archive Project, a veritable treasure trove/rabbit hole of underground press glory, here. The site indicates that “The Mothers of the American Revolution,” listed as a contact at the bottom right of the poster, was a fictitious organization deployed by writers at The Realist when they needed to get in touch with individuals that wouldn’t otherwise respond to somebody affiliated with the controversial rag. 

Now in his 80’s, Krassner is currently working on his first novel about a performer modeled after Lenny Bruce. His new book is Patty Hearst & The Twinkie Murders: A Tale of Two Trials.

In the clip below, we find Krassner in an interview with pioneering conservative TV talk show host, Joe Pyne—Bill O’Reilly’s “papa bear” as it were—in 1967. Pyne berates Krassner about his persistent use of the “filthiest four-letter word in the English language,” Krassner’s deep respect for Lenny Bruce, and a front-page headline in The Realist that asks what kind of deodorant Lyndon Johnson wears.  Pyne is beside himself with disgust. Despite the annoying text overlay on the video, it gives a great sense of the kind of visceral hatred that Krassner could inspire amongst those who just couldn’t get down with his unrelenting irreverence.

Posted by Jason Schafer | Leave a comment
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