RONALD HADLEY STARK…GRAND CHINGON

In early 1969, Ron Hadley Stark shifts base of operations from Northern to Southern California initiating an ill-fated alliance with the Brotherhood of Eternal Love based in Laguna Canyon.

Stark who claims to be an MD and a Ph.D, has at this point come into Big Money and allegedly sits on the boards of several corporations.

********************
In early 1969, the Grand Chingon & his followers allegedly relocate from Santa Cruz to the LA area to begin psychedelic blood rituals on the beaches of Malibu, Ventura, Topanga Canyon, and O’Neil Park.

O’Neil Park is less than ten minutes due North of Laguna Canyon.

The Grand Chingon is said to be a “large man”, a doctor and/or very well-to-do businessman.

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6 Responses to “RONALD HADLEY STARK…GRAND CHINGON”

  1. TOBORADAROBOT Says:

    V_Cinco
    March 12, 2014 at 1:12 pm e
    THE LAST STATUE (chapter 1)

    Phone machine announces the crack of doom…the bubble bursts, the dream dissolves…return to what passes for consciousness with a Kurt Cobain sized headache…flaked out in front of the tube where a guy in a suit covered with question marks says I’m entitled to a large share of govt. money, which seems a stark reversal of the facts such as we’ve all come to know them…

    “Cinco…you there? awake? sober?” chirps my agent de Castro, after the message-beep.

    A little earlier, just before the big nod-off, I’d been taking a break from trying to patch somebody’s flat-tire of a screenplay. I started watching a 1921 Fritz Lang movie called ‘Destiny’, synopsis of which follows thus: “Hoping to find her fiance, a girl drinks a magical tea and faces an ominous apparition.” Which…now that I think about it, presents a certain parallel to the circumstances under which I was viewing this film.

    And now, in the shrill light of morning, I’m facing my own ominous apparition in the form of de Castro, making the obligatory agent-checking-in-call: “Heh-heh…sorry to disturb your ‘work’-no…nothing much happening, heh-heh…just checking in…”

    But no, not so routine, sez de Castro, “Hey, got something you might be interested in-could even be lucrative-a helluva story at the very least…maybe another ‘Heaven’s Gate…”

    All right, might as well humor the chump. Pick up the phone, cut in with-”Ah, when you say ‘Heaven’s Gate’…you mean the Nike sneaker-flying-saucer suicide cult? Or the ill-fated Michael Chimino western?”

    “Exactly…” says de Castro.

    It was a month like many others, as they all blend, out toward the far end of the beveled edge of History…The salient features of this era were, as I recall, something like:

    -police in a major American city were accused of using excessive force

    -Oprah was on the cover of O

    -a generically obnoxious young blonde female celebrity was booked on a 502

    -there was a disaster in Indonesia

    -meanwhile…stuff was blowing up all over the Mid-East, as high ranking generals scrambled for excuses & private contractors ran amok

    And now…here’s de Castro with an unsavory blast from the past, coming at me with ‘Heaven’s Gate’ of all things, at this hour of the morning…

    So I sez, “In the interest of my impending deadline, and your impending tennis match, or whatever…could we be a little more specific? Maybe cut to the chase just a bit here…”

    “Okay, what’s the deal with Rex Learner? Didn’t you do some writing for him back in that designer-mullet infested decade we like to call the 80’s?”

    “Well…the deal, in a nutshell, is that the sonofabitch still owes me about $70,000, as a rounded-off dime-on-the-dollar, arbitrated figure. Now, when you reference ‘Heaven’s Gate’, I kind of tend to visualize all the money disappearing down a black hole, or Learner & Co. all beaming up to the mother-ship or the mystery-comet or whatever it was…”

    De Castro declined to elaborate over the phone, provocative but oblique, as per standard agent power-style. He extracted a commitment to meet at Anthony’s bar & grill, to which I-against my better judgment-agreed.

    Prismatic shafts of light now beam through the convex window in the front room. The cats soon appear expecting food, vying for attention by releasing the ‘mute’ button on the remote. Before I can hit the ‘power’ switch, another word about finance: “Hi, I’m Phil Massinger with a new way to pay old debts…yes, yes…anything for a quiet life…”

    ********************************

    We meet in the muted ambience of Anthony’s in Santa Monica over requisite male-bonding beverages appropriate to the situation…pleased to meet de Castro’s old Army buddy, Richard Privette.

    Privette, ex-LAPD, now a private investigator2 has his own agency, employing at least a dozen people, “It’s not all about the shedding of shoe leather anymore…these kids click mice and tap keyboards…access the hall of records, the assessor’s office, DMV, the phone company…gives me time to concentrate on the more subtle cases.”

    Thoughtful pause while refreshing beverages are consumed, and Privette continues, “So de Castro tells me you’re a script doctor…”

    “I prefer to think of myself as a screenplay veterinarian.”

    “Script proctologist,” chimes in de Castro helpfully.

    “It’s my understanding that you’ve done some writing for Rex Learner, a director of quite some renown and notoriety, who, according to the leading biographical references, leaves quite a wide swath of dashed hopes and unpaid bills.”

    “Well as a synopsis, that’s not bad,” I have to admit, “but I’m sort of puzzled about the ‘Heaven’s Gate’ angle that de Castro was going on about.”

    “Learner’s still out there, shooting a financial sinkhole of a movie, from a massive, as yet unfinished screenplay called ‘O’Blivion’s Water’. Aptly titled, considering the flow of mula through this thing…already about 20mil beyond any production budget in Hollywood so far, must be some kind of record. Word is, somebody’s very unhappy with this whole deal, and would like to terminate this production ‘with extreme prejudice’ as they say in the movies…”

    I take advantage of the pause, to have a bit of fun at the expense of de Castro, who in my opinion, is looking way too smug about all of this…

    “Geez, I appreciate the righteousness & urgency of your cause, and no doubt he’s Got It Coming, but I don’t think I’m up for anything like that,” I explain, “Uh, so how much were you offering-just scholarly curiosity…”

    “Fer chrissakes Cinco, he’s not hiring you to clip the bastard-” he’s about to elaborate, but breaks off in mid-sentence, noticing my traditional smirk of Put-On.

    So we all share a hearty chuckle, and order another round. Maybe take a moment to field a call from my research assistant, Becky:

    “Your pal from the airport…Terry-from Lennox3 says the ‘Dr. V.’ you were asking about, is probably a Dr. Vinrod…I googled & printed what I could & left it on your so-called desk…oh, and Mrs. Kurtz called, wanted to give you a heads-up about Engram Frazier4 who apparently is frantic to get in touch with you. Judging from the eight or nine messages on your voice-mail, I would have to concur…something about a power lunch at Eleanor Bull’s. A splendid opportunity to review some of Mr. Frazier’s notes…also present will be Mr. Skeres, and a Mr. Poley, who, I believe, also have some ‘notes’ for your edification…”

    Fuck that. This I need like a hole in the head. I’d been more than patient with these pinheads, and the stale, insipid piece of dogshit that Frazier insists is a screenplay-’Sodbusters’, an egregiously lame Bruckheimer-styled vice-squad drama patterned after the CSI cookie-cutter crime shows. 105 annoying pages of pure unadulterated, shopworn cliches-a house of cards built on a foundation of quicksand.

    Even Frazier seemed to sense something wrong here. Couldn’t I just make it, you know, more coherent or something? I doubt that anybody could, although, as far as I’m concerned, anybody can try as long as they try somewhere else ’cause I’m over it.

    On my last pass with this thing, I’d sketched-in completely irrelevant directions & gratuitous camera angles. A very annoying stunt which normally would guarantee termination of contract due to unprofessional conduct. But not with Frazier…kinda guy can’t take a simple ‘Fuck Off’ as an answer…Now, the whole point of having my research assistant sort through phone messages and E-mail, would be to screen out lost causes like Frazier & his goons.

    The lesson to be learned here, if any, would, I suppose, be to pay more attention to whatever the hell it is that de Castro & Privette are pitching…

    “My client, Mrs. Wheeler, was personal assistant and confidant to Learner for ten years. Now, as a production assistant at Tri-star, she’s come across information that would seem to imply a threat to his life. Corroborated from several sources, this information seems reliable, if not conclusive.”

    “Learner’s been shooting in New Mexico,” continues Privette, “Tight security, all very hush-hush…map points, code-words…real streamlined, fanatically loyal skeleton crew, traveling in caravan from location to location…really roughing it, sometimes camping right at the location, in RVs, teepees & bubble tents, right out in the desert…not even any craft-services…”

    De Castro gives an involuntary shudder at this last revelation. Indeed, a production unit without catering; what’s the point?

    “I had to level with Mrs. Wheeler,” says Privette, “Sending in an operative, no matter how well trained or subtle, could very well backfire in a situation like this. My profession seems to be undergoing an agonizing reappraisal in the post-Pelicano era. A closed set, very limited cast of characters-Learner’s not taking calls, and unsolicited visitors are firmly discouraged…”

    “There is a weak link in the chain however; big problems with the script…which leaves a vacancy: writer wanted…so, you’ve got a history with this guy…could be beneficial to all concerned if someone could get in there and take a look. No one is suggesting you take a bullet for Learner or get dangerously close to anything too nasty. Just take a close scan for anyone, besides yourself, who doesn’t belong, or who might have an agenda pertinent to our inquiry. One of the puzzling anomalies about this entire project is the effortless flow of money to sustain it. Maybe you could cut a deal with Learner for the back pay, plus whatever it’s going to take to pump some life into this screenplay, which I’m given to understand you’re already somewhat familiar with?”

    “O’ Blivion’s Water & I go way back…”

    “Exactly why you’re the one for the job. Mrs. Wheeler avers that Cal Habrud, a line-producer for Canopus Productions (Learners company) will put in a good word, a letter of introduction that should put you right there.”

    *******************************

    And so we agree to meet at Privette’s office tomorrow, sign some forms, work out a few details, review a few profiles of some of the more interesting production staff and assorted hangers on. As we zoom in slow toward the bar, observe sport-sized TV screens tuned to CNN-fresh footage from the war (hard to keep track of which one exactly, but it was bloody, painful, expensive, and made no fucking sense whatsoever) blasted vehicles, daisy-cutters & cluster bombs on wedding parties…shrapnel…broken glass…charred flesh of young children…

    “Holy shit!” grates de Castro, while gibbering neo-con dickheads try to put a positive spin on it all, accentuate the positive, like that book The Secret-gotta tune out those negative thoughts…can’t make a New World Order without grinding a little hamburger…

    “Just like a Nam flashback-typical fucking Skull & Bones-CFR war,” opines Privette, downing the last of his drink, “What was it Jim Jones said about not learning from history? Now, he wasn’t the first to say that, but judging from this bullshit, he definitely won’t be the last either.”

    According to de Castro, Privette had seen plenty of action up close & personal in Nam and Cambodia. According to the tone in Privette’s voice, he’d seen more than enough.

    Way more.

    ************************************

    I’d actually lost track of Learner, at least until de Castro & Privette started this latest song & dance. I really had no clear idea if he was still in the business or even alive at this point. Learner was from the Coppola-Scorsese-Altman generation of would-be auteurs who climbed an arc of prominence and influence starting in the late 60s, rising to some fairly impressive peaks before crashing & burning by the end of the 70s or shortly thereafter.

    Learner’s bleary, stubble-jawed hyper-realistic western & Mexican landscapes and other genre locations seethed with atmospheric menace and twisted sinister intrigue, juxtaposed with surreal glimpses of unraveling reality just hovering at the edge of the frame. This alone, with a body of work starting with ‘The King of Nothing’, followed by:

    ‘The Kenoma Kid’
    ‘Blood on the Saddle’
    ‘Thunder at the Well’
    & ‘Circle Round my Skull’
    should have secured his place in the pantheon.

    From that point, Learner began his massive, over-ambitious quartet:

    ‘Line in the Dirt’
    ‘Fool’s Tornado’
    ‘Fire-Wheel & Turner’
    &’Oblivion’s Water’

    …which apparently, is still not finished, which if true would have to be setting some sort of world’s record, surpassing even Orson Welles’ ‘Othello’ as longest drawn-out production.

    Learner’s feuds with Jim “The Smiling Cobra’ Aubrey at MGM, and severe alienation of many other industry kingpins, contributed to his image as uncontrollable bad-boy, and made each picture increasingly difficult to complete. On the other hand, the grizzled, bearded, booze-guzzling, coke-snorting, mirror-shaded bad-boy persona, was a more memorable and popular character than could be found in most movies, including his own.

    There were interested parties willing to participate in financing motion pictures, largely for the photo-op chance to hob-nob with an actual legendary American celebrity independent out-of-control renegade out-law “cinema auteur”.

    Learner hadn’t counted on this. He’d just wanted to rattle the suits, not become the poster-boy for boiling-over, unmanaged, collective rage, but it was the easiest, if not the only way that these films could get made…

    “Goddamn it ,” as he was wont to say, “I’ve done some degrading and unpleasant shit to stay in this business-I’ve had breakfast with Sue Menger, lunch with Mike Ovitz, and sex with Julia Phillips, I’ve been thrown out of the office at Warner’s, by Ashley, Wells, and Calley, had meetings with Paramount brass until Stanley Jaffe bled from the nostrils, and Charlie Bludhorn foamed at the mouth, so it would be…imprudent of me to bitch about these weasels. Boring yeah, but a least they’re not spitting foam on me…”

    As the years fly by and the information trickles in, to be sifted, analyzed and interpreted, preliminary speculation indicates that Celebrity might just possibly have (gasp!) a less than positive effect on human character, being, amongst other things, enticing, seductive, even addictive, which brings us to Learner who, partly to maintain his celebrity-madman status & partly to assuage his own paranoia, had taken to publicly blowing himself up. The Russian Suicide Death Chair: place six sticks of dynamite in two hopefully even rows, or seventeen sticks in a big circle, then lie down between them in a paper coffin or crouch fetal-like under a chair…the sticks detonate and form an eye-of-tornado type pocket, assuming all the sticks went off, you should be OK, maybe a little hard of hearing, but not too much more notably deranged than before. Once, up in Oregon, and at least once more at ‘Big H Speedway’ in Houston, Learner blasted his way to nihilist notoriety in front of God & anybody else that wanted to look.

    *********************************

    “So what have you been doing? Finish that Frazier project?” inquires de Castro, carpooling on the way over to Privette’s.

    “Ah, you know…reading a little William Carlos Williams, maybe some Ford Maddox Ford, doing a little snow and water-boarding. As you know, I’ve been wintering in Tuscany…digging the red-tiled roofs on the hillsides, savoring the bounty of the local vineyards, the antipasto, the tangerine orchards in bloom…the voluptuous allure of dusky Neapolitan girls straining in their Versace halter-tops to catch the last slivered rays of the surrealist popsicle sunset…”

    “All right, stop it… I was almost buying it for a second,” You could kind of tell this was leading up to something…ah, right on schedule-”So Carmen tells me you were out at her place in Zuma…and you burned a bunch of screenplays?”

    “We were running low on firewood, and I’ve been rethinking my format…how about graphic novels instead?”

    “Which ones?”

    “Just the seven.”

    “What are you, fuckin’ nuts!? I never understood what ‘The Plaster Cramp’ 6 supposed to be about, but we could have easily sold ‘El Hombre Verde’ & ‘The Secret Mirror’…some of those could definitely have been movies by now-”

    “Yes, Yes…It did pain me considerable to deprive The Industry of these humble offerings, but y’know, The Industry, if It could hear us, would say: don’t worry about Me…there’s always ghastly remakes of earlier films-particularly French New-Wave classics, and 60’s & 70’s TV sitcoms and spy-shows, sequals, prequals, comic books, cartoons, videogames, graphic-novels, and generic, mass-produced, cookie-cutter vehicles for past and present Saturday Night Live alumni-”

    “But to just burn the shit-”

    “Don’t think of those stories as gone, they’re just consolidated into seven chapters of the current work…”

    “What current work?”

    “The one we’re in now”

    “In now?”

    “Yes, so try to be interesting for a change…”

    “What would be interesting,” says de Castro with an agent’s innate skill for letting himself off the hook, “Is for you to remind me once more, just where you hooked up with Learner and all this ‘O’Blivion’s Water’ nonsense, I seem to be a little fuzzy on the chronology.”

    “Well…First, as we all know…all roads lead to Bob Evans…”

    *******************************

    The Kid

    When I first set eyes on Bob Evans, he was being wheeled through the Paramount offices on a gurney by his chauffer David Gilruth. Evans, on this occasion, was attired in black silk pajamas, and black velvet slippers with little gold foxes hand-stitched onto the toes. No indication of anything unusual about any of this, just the usual day to day apparel of choice, and preferred mode of transportation-at least until Gilruth got him to the limo.

    As executive-production-assistant-intern-understudy, my duties had so far mainly consisted of going for coffee & bagels. And so, to wander those halls in that state of blissful ignorance, sipping morning coffee, thinking those happy thoughts, one might encounter Peter Bart, or Al Ruddy, and think to oneself: “These guys seem focused, competitive, efficient, yet still exhibiting some semblance of ethical human values…”

    On the other hand, you could have an up-close and personal encounter with Evans, Frank Yablans, or Charlie Bludhorn. A very different story.

    In an earlier incarnation as an actor, Evans had been selected to star in an Irving Thalberg biopic. This selection had been made by Thalberg’s widow, Norma Shearer, on the premise that Evans “looked the part”. There was common speculation that Paramount chairman/Gulf Western chief Charles Bludhorn had merely done the same, by hiring the egregiously under-qualified Evans to assume the duties of chief of production, while Bludhorn and his pals, like Michele Sindona, Paul Marcinkus, and Licio Geli, to name three, got on with the business of laundering Big Money, as it flowed in from Immobilare, Banco Ambrosiano, and such like…

    Meanwhile, I was getting on with the business of screenplay courier. Seems routine enough; roll on out to Evans’ palatial estate, scoop this script and deliver to Peter Bart, possibly at a party. Say what you will about Evans, (and I will) nothing is ever routine with The Kid.

    Parking my dilapidated Citron as unobtrusively as I can, I take the roundabout approach to a side door as specified in the instructions. I knock, door opens, and it’s Evans himself in full-stride, springing out the door, with some boobalacious halter-top honey young enough to be even my daughter in tow…

    “…Uh, hey-glad you could make it pal…here, take this,” he hands me the joint he’s been smoking with his little companion. “Got a bit of a meeting going on inside right now, so just kind of hang out sort of low-key here for a minute will ya? Niki here, and I, are gonna go get David to bring the car around-we’ll be right back…”

    They disappear around the corner of some hedges, and I’m left to finish the joint and ponder the Santa Ana winds now kicking up, rattling branches & rustling leaves in the eucalyptus trees, rows of which frame and bisect the estate.

    Nothing too out of place…although Evans always seemed more like a booze, coke, and pills type, but a little weed and/or ludes goes a long way toward negotiating the pendulous charms of young coconut-butter basted So Cal female flesh. Wouldn’t you?

    A couple of tokes later, I’m suddenly aware of voices traveling along the shrubbery in the opposite direction from where Evans and Niki just vanished.

    …getting closer…think I’ll just sit sort of crouched-over on this quaint marble bench behind these overgrown rose-bushes bordering a row of cypress trees…here they come…almost in view…the first face to follow its voice around the corner is Charlie Bludhorn, followed by John E. Gray, then another individual later to be identified as Terrence W. Abbot, next, mob mouthpiece Sidney Korshak, and then…Henry Kissinger!?

    Jeeziz…what next? A mummer’s parade with J. Edgar Hoover & Meyer Lansky? Some sort of narco-sting ambush gambit, deploying the full brunt of Division-5 and the brutally over-funded NSA?

    That Evans was chummy with the Big K, was evident from the strategically placed photographs in his office of his cherished trophy-friends–Kissinger foremost among them–that given a pretext, Evans would show to just about anybody that would sit still for it. But it’s another thing to see the bastard oozing around the corner while I’m in the act of committing what was in those days a schedule-II felony.

    From the context of what I can overhear, it’s apparent that these mooks are having a sidebar apart from the main meeting

    Gray whirls on the others, more or less focusing on Kissinger, “All right Henry, I can squash this SEC investigation, but you guys owe me one, a BIG one…Sidney, you need to talk to Senator ****** for me, I’ll have some notes on your desk by closing tomorrow…” Voices drifting off as they re-enter the house through the door from which Evans had emerged.

    INT. EVAN’S LIMO (MOVING)

    Gilruth, as always, at the wheel…heading west down Sunset…

    Our POV from back seat looking out toward 180 fish-eye lens perspective of windshield, thru which we can see palm trees sway & shiver in the balmy Santa Anas, disgorging fronds & widow-makers, blowing down to smite the vehicles of the less fortunate.

    As we pan back toward the rear of the limo…The Irishman (who’s actually from Neptune) and The Kid are holding forth, while Niki & her nearly identical colleague Viki, are conversing in a completely self-contained, exclusively closed reference, pop-culture discussion among themselves, while blaring some early Wailers on a boom-box, as they roll joints of prime gold Columbian.

    Kirschvasser & Cuervo await to refresh…

    IRISHMAN
    …that’s show-biz Kid-there’s a rhythm to it…ya can’t rush these things. I got rushed with ‘Drive’-that ain’t gonna happen on this one.

    KID
    What was it called again? Moonfire? Mooncrap?

    IRISHMAN
    ‘Moontrap’. It’s a Don Berry story, a western. Great stuff,
    but needs honing. Got this kid Sharpe doing a rewrite, but
    it’s goin’ kind of slow…that’s why I gotta scramble to keep
    Kovaks and the Sylberts on the line…got Van Dyke Parks for the soundtrack…everything’s ready as soon as it’s writ, but no go till the script’s finished…Which reminds me, gotchyer telephone book right here…courtesy of Beener, 436 pages…not even close to finished.

    KID
    So you don’t want it?

    IRISHMAN
    Beener wrote it on spec for The Pro when The Pro was all pumped-up about westerns-The Pro ain’t so keen on all that since Altman peed on his leg up in Seattle…so he just stops 400-plus pages into it, takes his name off it…I’m a chump-right? So I loan Beener money, and what do I get? A fuckin’ spare tire…The Pro’s sloppy seconds…

    KID
    “O’Blivion’s Water?” This guy’s got water on the brain. Looks like ‘Chinatown’ on horseback to me.

    IRISHMAN
    Shit, I wouldn’t care if it was ‘Shampoo’ 7 horseback, if he’d just finish the fuckin’ thing for once.

    KID
    What is this goddamn jungle music anyway?

    IRISHMAN
    Don’t believe I recognize that one…shit Kid, it’s another
    generation, these chicks haven’t even heard of Aretha, let
    alone Ruth Etting. That’s a humbling thought to keep in
    mind…How old did you say these girls are?

    KID
    I didn’t card them…what am I their father? Viki says she’s
    nineteen & Niki must be at least that…

    IRISHMAN
    I’m just sayin’, that’s a lot of cotton candy to have on your plate with Ali flying in tomorrow night…Do me a favor, huh? Be a mensch and change the sheets, or get Gilruth to do it.

    KID
    Yeah-yeah…I’ve got it covered, Niki, Viki, and Ali, all get frilly things…real high-end kinky lingerie from Suzy Creamcheese…everybody’s happy, no problems…The Kid will abide,The Kid will live & learn…

    IRISHMAN (sings)
    The Kid will crash & burn…

    KID
    Which reminds me…

    The Kid turns, hefting the massive screen-play which plops onto the unsuspecting lap of Cinco, who, until this second, had completely lost his place among temporal-spatial coordinates as the result of total cannabis saturation almost from the minute that Evans answered the door…

    KID (to Cinco)
    Make sure this gets to Peter Bart…we’re gonna drop you at this party-if he doesn’t show up, hand it to him in person at the office-under NO circumstances are you to turn this over to Frank Yablans or even let him see it-got that?

    IRISHMAN (leaning forward)
    There’s gonna be an amigo there by the name of Emilio, we’d like you to convey our regrets at having just missed him, but make sure he gets treated real good, OK? I knew
    I could count on you pal…

    The Irishman deploys The Smile, which has never been known to fail.

    The limo is slowly losing its race with the solar orb toward the western horizon of orange & pink & darkening azure…lights twinkle on across the bay, the trees still swaying and undulating in slow motion like deep-sea flora…

    ********************************

    Trancas

    Somewhere during the hazy ride to the beach I’d gathered just enough presence, or absence of mind to exchange phone numbers with one of the babble-on girls in the Limo. It had seemed like the suave Irishman-like thing to do. But now, I couldn’t for the life of me remember which one. Would it, could it, possibly matter? But there was nobody around to answer that question as the limo pulled back onto the Coast Highway toward the general direction of The Game…

    It’s Bad-Boy night at Trancas Beach. I should have known that Bart would have the good sense & foresight to sit this one out. Pouring a shit-load of booze & blow into the likes of Gary Busey, Jan Michael Vincent, Don Johnson, and David Carridine, would seem to imply a fairly self-explanatory punch-line.

    Feminine presence is slow in arriving due to the volatile possibilities just outlined. The primary exception to that paradigm being the Margolin-Kidder-Salt team that I knew slightly from parties at Nicholas Beach. Less formally known as Janet, Margo, and Jennifer, they always seemed to present an amiable and witty buffer to the accumulation of coke-dilated egos that occur as an oft-repeated motif at Malibu parties. In stark contrast to most party hostesses on the scene, their graciousness often extended even to those of us yet to achieve the various intermediate states of celebrity enjoyed by the majority of the guests (Scorsese, De Palma. Spielberg, etc.) Intelligent, articulate, opinionated actresses, eager to discuss literature & writing craft with anyone besides the morbid, suicidally self-absorbed Paul Schrader or the blustery shot-gun wielding John Milius.

    Tonight at Trancas, out on the deck in the rear of the house facing the ocean, is an impromptu band jamming on a Hank Williams tune. There’s Busey on guitar & vocals, Rick Danko8on bass & vocals, Dennis Wilson-who seems to be having some difficulty in staying upright-on drums, with Jesse ‘Ed’ Davis & Ron Wood on guitars …noted medications consultant Kathy Smith lurks nearby.

    Big commotion from inside…the guest of honor, Emilio Fernandez has arrived. A celebrated actor/director of the Mexican cinema, Fernandez also has a rep as a far, far Badder Boy than everyone here tonight put together. A larger-than-life man of passionately expressed aesthetic preferences, he has been known to occasionally kill disrespectful critics & uncooperative extras on movie sets. Rounding out the resume is a series of duels, bankruptcies, and volatile relationship entanglements, not to mention massive sombreroed Presence as an actor, and an astonishing body of directorial work.

    The band (’Teddy-Jack-Eddy’ according to a slurred Busey when asked) is growling its staggering path through a John Lee Hooker song, sounding pretty good too, when suddenly:

    Shots-broken glass-shouts-cries-sobbing panicked hysteria…

    …inside: everyone scatters…

    -Don Johnson headed for the side-door, exits through sliding glass window

    -Schrader paranoically crouched beneath the dining room table fumbling for his piece…

    -I can see Busey out on the deck, dive right over the rail and into the surf…

    The storm had already passed even as I bolted into the den. Fernandez had holstered his pearl handled 44. and was standing transfixed by a full-face close-up of Maria Felix on the tube.

    A shredded painting & splintered frame were strewn on the floor…I think it was a Schnabel-I really couldn’t tell.

    As a man of highly refined aesthetic sensibilities, Emilio was bound by honor to deliver the coup-de-grace to the offending canvas.

    I think it was Janet Margolin, who in the midst of all this had calmly walked over and flipped the tube over to a Spanish language station. Margolin was later heard to say, “I always regarded TV at a party as a crass declasse bummer; something we’d only put up with to humor Spielberg, but over there on channel 34 was an old Emilio Fernandez movie. Go figure…”

    The motion is seconded by Harry Dean Stanton, who had been serenely chain-smoking out on the deck through the entire outburst…now steps to the microphone with an acoustic, to deliver a beautiful, aching rendition of ‘Las Golondrinas’…followed by an early Henry Porter tune.

    ********************************

    So Bart would get the screenplay-just not that that night. A bargain would be struck, terms negotiated, a favor repaid…A call placed by Sidney Korshak from his usual table at the Bistro, sitting as always, equidistant between two phones, one of which would convey The Deal as pitched by Korshak, to interested parties who, having an aggregate IQ exceeding room-temperature, would acknowledge the futility of refusal, and accede to the terms without further delay. Learner would take possession of the screenplay, and I reasonably assumed that once having been fobbed off on Bart, “O’Blivion’s Water” would be out of my life, soon forgotten as we all move on to other things.

    So much for reasonable assumptions…

    ***************************

    “All right, let’s click up a few of the folks you’ll likely be meeting in the next few days…” Privette swivels the screen around to our line of vision, “Exactly what the practical function is for some of these individuals is frankly a mystery to me. A most unusual entourage…”

    “OK, here’s Charles Kyd L’Maigne-early LSD chemist from the 60s Bay area culture…in the same circle, but never as famous or prolific as Owsely, much more low-key, hence difficult to indict or convict. Indeed, the one case filed against him, dried up & blew away when the Company-connected star witness for the prosecution took a brody.”

    “Here’s Major Hector Arcana, ex-Air Force intelligence, former consultant to the Eviary & the Aquarium

    “So I’m at my sister in law’s, right? A total fuckin’ Republican dingbat. At a regretfully inevitable social commitment, she starts going on about Clare Booth Luce or some shit, and I remember this entry in an antique encyclopedia I’d bought over the weekend at a garage sale that read:
    Nor is Antichrist unknown to Mohammedan theology in which he is called Masth al Dajjal, the false or lying Christ…He is to be one-eyed and marked on the forehead with the letters CFR, i.e. Cafir or infidel.

    “CFR, huh? Well…she’s got the same Encyclopedia Britannica right there in the dining room. As a patriotic Christian, I’m thinkin’ she must want to know, right? With any luck I thought, it should ruin her thanksgiving. So, lo & behold, I go to look, and…there’s no entry. Everything else in the book is the same, except page 126, where that one specific paragraph is missing. The difference? My copy is 1904, hers:1919. Did a little googling, found that a preacher from Austin Texas, named Texe Marrs, has written concerning the very same entry. Reverend Marrs, who happens to be a retired USAF officer, who has taught psychology, political science, American defense policy, aerospace studies, and strategic weapons systems (nice rŽsumŽ Texe), claims in ‘Circle of Intrigue’ that in 1919, as the Council on Foreign Relations was forming, a certain Colonel House arranged to buy the rights to the Britannica, so as to expunge the offending material. Texe comes up a little short on documenting this assertion, but if you google on out to where the buses don’t run, you might come across that early photo of Col. House & Ezra Buckley III 9 shaking hands at the closing of a deal.”

    1Corresponding Steely Dan songs for Chapter

  2. AlphabetofBrookeShields Says:

  3. __ΞΞΞΞΞΞΞϴϘϴΞΞΞΞΞΞΞ__ Says:

    The Last Statue (chapter 3) pt1 http://laststatue.wikispot.org/_Last_Statue_Chapter_Three

    ‘If a man asks: What is the Process? Say to him:

    It is The End
    The final ending
    Of the world of men
    It is the agent of the End
    The instrument of The End
    The inexorable power of The End’2

    -Robert De Grimston3

    If you’re harder yet to please
    We have most delightful dreams
    Our recorders will preserve
    The intensity and passion
    Of your screams

    For we only aim to please
    It’s our customers who gain
    As their appetites increase
    They must come to us
    For pleasure and for pain
    And the price is right
    The cost of one admission
    Is your mind

    -The United States of America

    ‘Strange days have found us
    Strange days have tracked us down…
    Bodies confused Memories misused
    As we run from the day
    to a strange night of stone…’

    -Jim Morrison

    The Testament of Charles Kyd L’Maigne

    I first met Tim Scully somewhere in the science department at Berkeley, briefly discussing, if memory serves, the theoretical possibilities of red mercury4, the philosopher’s stone, the pursuit of the grail & the elixir of immortality, and how any or all of this, might or might not relate to the lysergic trend suddenly gaining momentum as the zeitgeist beckoned.

    I had already met Melissa Cargill5around the campus, and soon heard that she was living with the Big O up in Richmond, cooking up speed in their bathtub, taking in Scully as a roommate; then, eventually refining their act by producing a series of high quality LSD-25 prototypes; ‘Blue Cheer’, ‘Purple Haze’, and ultimately, yes…’Orange Sunshine’, breakfast of champions.

    Labs in Windsor, Orinda, and Petaluma were soon cranking out mass-produced enlightenment at the behest of Mr. William Mellon Hitchcock,6 who was bankrolling all of this neuro-chemical satori, I assumed, out of the goodness of his heart…

    Eventually Nick Sand was on board; a pragmatic, profit-motivated counterfoil to Scully’s mystic idealism. Scully obsessed about purity, while Sand strove to find new ways to cut corners & add cheap thrills & bum kicks, cutting the acid with meth, strychnine, STP & DPT. Definitely quantity over quality with Sand, which is where I come into the picture.

    Relations between S&S were already strained when Sand accidentally (I think) tainted a major batch with kerosene. I’d done some minor work in a couple of their labs, produced a few batches, which Scully then meticulously analyzed, logged, and filed. Rather than argue with Sand at this point, Scully commissioned a certain quantity from me, and I assume, was fairly satisfied with the results, which is where all of that Holy Roman Emperor nickname stuff got started.

    The main irony was that, at this point, I was moving away from lysergic solutions, becoming obsessed with a mythical psychedelic compound mentioned in ancient heretical Persian and Kurdish religious texts. The sacred libation, translated roughly as ‘Lace’, seems to have become intertwined with soma7 and haoma, from the religious traditions of India & Persia respectively. An aspiring young specialist in Kurdish liturgical texts by the name of Martin Schwartzman, claimed that superimposing certain passages from the Jandekite literature, namely, The Book of the Diamond, and The Book of the Pearl, would yield the encoded recipe for ‘lace’, which, according to the Diamond & Pearl literature, would trigger a series of synchronistic events, which would somehow provoke the immanent manifestation of the much anticipated Book of JNDK.

    From JNDK: Hypothetical Heretic Estimated Prophet -by Walter Tyler F&

    The Book of JNDK, according to Henry Corbin’s translation of Theodore Bar Konai8is depicted as a call being “sent” or “broadcast” from some origin-point located outside the sphere of linear temporal unfolding, rebounding from the flash-point at the end of History, casting a reflection of itself into the past, while creating rippling, patterned modifications in seemingly random cultural artifacts, subverting and overriding preexistent interpretive meaning; connecting the dots on a whole other level, creating an infinite labyrinth of correspondences spiraling outward in the form of a wheel, gathering the fallen sparks into the Ras9, The Final Assembly,10 The Last Statue.

    This “last statue”, would be composed of hashmal11, a kind of divine, mercurial, liquid-fire type of energy, and would convey the gathered fallen sparks as a purified wheel of fire, to the “New Town”, a destination equivalent to the New Jerusalem12 Astra Alta, or Christianopolis.13

    According to Professor Oskar Mier, in his masterful study of Guilo Camillo; ‘The Enigma of Bologna’ (a vast improvement over Mier’s previous effort; ‘The Diet of Worms’-strictly for the birds) the memory-wheels of Ramon Lull14 were a very specific reverberation of that same theme. Camillo evidently had a clandestine copy of Lull’s Book of the Seven Planets, wherein these connections are frequently, albeit cryptically, examined. Lull, who apparently had clandestine copies of the books of the Diamond & Pearl, seems to have extracted from these works, his color-coded system of decans, “the dye behind the wheel”15 as Lull would note.

    The single credible surviving fragment alleged to be included in the Book of JNDK: “I am a word16, a son of words [….] beware the repetitions of mirrors and copulations lest ye fall into the labyrinth and be entangled therein17 [….] cast into the wastes of the kenoma18, forgetful of origin and destination, prey to djinn, astral voyeurs [….] ghosts in the mirror19.” There follows a talismanic chant to ward off the aforementioned baleful influences:

    UUUAAAAAAAAAAAAOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAA UUUUUUUOOOEEEEEEEEEEEEEUUUUUUUUUUUUEEEEEE AAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIOOOOOOOOOOOO” etc.

    Each vowel in the sequence is said to represent a color, an element, a number, a musical tone, a planet, a day of the week and so on.

    The remaining fragments of this hypothetical tome, relate the voyage of the JNDK and his followers, as they cross the Vourukasha20 in southern Uqbar, where they encounter the blue, but miraculously preserved body of Xormusta21, in the frozen wastes of Mt. Elburz. -end quote

    “You are the result of a strategy that has been unfolding for over fifty years. You were prepared discreetly by several Englishmen who were themselves agents of the process…” -Lama Govinda to Timothy Leary from ‘Confessions of a Hope Fiend’22

    The optimism and naiveté of the era tended to negate any inclination to feel skeptical or judgmental toward super-cool acid financiers who happen to be doing business with the same money launderers, as Nixon, Vesco, Bebe Rebozo, and a whole shitload of corrupt, venal, asshole Third-world dictators and other practitioners of cattle-prod-to-genital social engineering.

    So…the flower blooms, dies, and rots, far quicker than you’d think it’s going to. By summer ‘67, the ‘Death of Hippie’ 23 been declared, the Haight spinning into a terminal amphetamine death-rattle, swarming with vicious pimps and hustlers, battening on the surplus of unsuspecting lemmings, who’ve made this long journey just to be victimized…

    I’d set up a small basement lab on Cole street, which was an excellent vantage point to watch the New Darkness sweep down Cole and on into the Haight along with a myriad of other cults full of mindfuckers, soul-zappers, and blood slurpers.

    Feeling kind of conspicuous, with a lab going so close to hippie ground-zero, concerns about the heat and all…a band rehearsing upstairs blows a fuse once or twice a week, leaving me scrambling for emergency power, while the word on the street is: Mr. ‘Billy’ Hitchcock is under some kind of pressure to relinquish his patronage to our worthy endeavor.

    But even more troubling is the phenomena brought to my attention by Milan Melvin24… “Kyd, word’s getting around that all the regular dealers, chemists, and distributors are disappearing, or turning up decapitated, mutilated or hacked to pieces if they turn up at all. Shit, some of them we sort of know, or at least have heard of, like Shob, Superspade, or Leo the Hebrew…supposedly done in by the King of Hearts, whoever the fuck that’s supposed to be…”25

    Concern ramps up to borderline paranoia with the very unexpected arrival at my door, of Nick Sand. I’d never been all that close to the Sandman, who operated according to his own agenda of semi-secret, privately commissioned batches of dubious compounds for unspecified entities, whose intentions I suspect, were far from benevolent.

    I could never really talk to Sand on the same level as I could with Scully or Cargill. Our main topic of conversation was the Armenian mystic G.I. Gurdjieff, whom I knew a bit about through an uncle who had been part of the inner circle at G’s institute in Fountainbleu. According to my uncle; the real action where any kind of mystical progress was being made, was not in the lessons, classes, exercises, lectures, stupifyingly tedious readings of ‘Beelzebub’s Tales’, or menial slave labor, but in the marathon dinners which usually evolved or devolved, depending upon your point of view, into lengthy drinking sessions where the big G would push his student’s buttons, playing upon their weaknesses, until they were sufficiently destabilized to be receptive to the Big Enlightenment which was surely just around the corner…

    Sand, needless to say, loved of all that manipulation of human weakness stuff, and was maybe using some of that as he pitched his plan to set up shop in the corner of my rented basement, to begin working some new short-cut LSD formula.

    The upside of his scheme, was that this recipe eliminated several steps in the process and obviated the need for ergotamine tartrate (ET) which was becoming increasingly difficult to obtain.

    The downside of all this involved certain specialized solvents so volatile as to explode or ignite by mere contact with a sufficiently sharp surface (like broken glass for instance) which in close proximity to other compounds found in this context, could trigger a chain of explosions, possibly consuming the whole lab. What a bummer man…

    You connect the dots-you do the math-you fill in your own punchline(KABLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OMMMMM!) Sand picked his way through the debris; glass shards and splinters from Bunsen burners, beakers, and test tubes and various flasks & scales…bits of rubber tubing & detritus from vacuum evaporators & chromatography columns…

    Sand, or so the story goes, had arrangements like this all over town at this point, and so, staggered off into the morning mist, sandblasted (pun intended) from head to toe with pure crystaline LSD-25 plus related compounds, to cook another batch, maybe destroy another lab-all in a day’s work “Uh, sorry man…gotta go…later…”

    • __ΞΞΞΞΞΞΞϴϘϴΞΞΞΞΞΞΞ__ Says:

      I tried to clean up as much of the mess as I could, scooped & trashed most of the broken glass, though random splotches of various substances, some illegal, some still unknown to law or science, were distributed across major areas of the walls and ceiling.

      A call from Roni; the willowy dark-haired girl who dealt a little weed & acid out of C-3, the apartment across from mine…“Hey Kyd, just thought I’d tell ya: You know those guys down the hall? They’ve been coming around asking about you. I know they talked to Glickman, and to Naiomi & John in C-5. Shane says they were asking about the key to the basement, and when I came back from the market this afternoon, they both had their faces up in the windows of your camper. They seem to be taking an interest at the very least…Then I heard that boom, like it was down in the basement or something…is everything O.K.?”

      “Yeah, just a visit from the Sandman, not nearly as apocalyptic as it probably sounded.”

      “Good to hear. Y’know everybody’s still raving about that Chained Lighting26 from last week, The People, such as they are, unanimously request more, when and if available, but we’ll talk about that when I see you…meanwhile those guys down the hall rate at least a 9 on my paranoia scale of 1 to 10. Narks, informants, rip-off artists-who knows? But they’re definitely up to something.”

      I thanked Roni, then called Milan Melvin to discuss these current fluctuations in the exchange of commodities…

      “Jeez Kyd,” sez a highly agitated MM, “You’d better get out of town right now, before you wind up as a warehouse doorstop, or several warehouse doorstops…you remember that little chat we had about Shob & Superspade…”

      “Well, I talked to this guy a couple of weeks ago, a Digger, I think, named Erickson. He claimed to be part of some underground railway/safehouse kind of deal, where they shuttle draft-resisters up to Canada, and others with dope or political issues, down to L.A. or Mexico.”

      “Who, Erickson?” says MM, “Nah, that guy’s not a Digger. I asked Grogan about Erickson, he’s part of some weirdo group that’s supposed to occupy one of the crashpads on Waller Street, as soon as the Diggers pull out-if they haven’t already…but definitely not a Digger. According to Grogan, Erickson works for that guy Stark, from the Himalaya Academy27

      “Stark?”

      “Yeah, Ron Stark28 Remember the ‘Alchemist’s Conference’ at the Himalaya Academy? Seems like everybody in the business was there; sort of heavy on the platitudes & happy-speak, a little light on substance…this guy Stark had big bushy hair-a little thin on top-and a Zapata mustache29. I remember hearing one of the Academy poofters refer to him as ‘Uncle Sugar’. I heard Leary introduce him to somebody else, as ‘Carl’. The Big O implies that Stark might be stepping into Mr. Billy’s shoes before too long…none of which helps us at the moment-you need a deep-cover vacation…oh yeah, hold on a sec…yeah…I’ve been trying to find somebody to house-sit this cabin down near LA. Remember Marko? He needs someone to occupy his place for a few months while he gets some medical attention.”

      “Oh yeah? What seems to be the problem?”

      “Ah, it’s a long story…”

      Hmmmm…Maybe just about this long:

      Patient in question now residing in the Charles Dexter ward30 of the James V. Forrestal31 wing at Atascadero State Mental Facility Patient complains of confusion and distortion in his spatial and temporal relationship to his body Patient suffers from apocalyptic anxieties connected to ritual cult activities that he claims occur in the area near his residence Patient avers that his memories have been ‘tampered’ and ‘misused’

      “I hope Marko was bullshitting or hallucinating about that cult stuff. Other than that, how bad could it be? Topanga by the sea…”

      “You’re not going to drive that motor-home, are you?32 It looks like a Technicolor mother-of-pearl flying saucer on peyote. Beautiful, and in its own way, subtle, compared to all the day-glow paisley buses one sees these days, but still a long way from inconspicuous, if you know what I mean…”

      He had me there. I’d trusted some very peppy freaks to repaint this camper from its original day-glow, green jello & magenta. So it comes back covered with this shimmering, prismatic, mother-of-pearl type coating, giving the effect of a mirage of an abalone shell turned inside out. Well it couldn’t be helped. I’d filled up the tank33 and loaded what I could salvage from the lab, and traded some of the remaining Chained Lighting to Roni, for a QP of Acapulco Gold (that’s right kids, such things did once actually exist) and a quantity of black Paki hash about the size of a cheese wheel. It would have to do.

      **********************************************

      “…the future’s uncertain & The End is always near…” -Jim Morrison34

      The Spiral Staircase35 There it was; in all of its two-story Victorian glory, jutting against the picture-postcard Malibu sunset, which was in the process of being pre-empted by a looming thunderhead fronting a massive storm system gliding in off the ocean.

      I’d followed the creek down toward the coast, avoiding the main canyon highway, figuring to chain-smoke a few joints, maybe cop some take-out food at The Raft or Positano’s, if it’s still open, then scoot back up to the cabin before the storm hit. From what I’d seen of Topanga so far, Victorian-styled structures loomed highly incongruous, if not downright nonexistent, amongst the cabins and bungalows scattered at the mouth of the canyon.

      And now, on the way back from the Raft, rounding past the house, notice the tilted angle, the skewed perspective, the infernal asymmetry…as I complete my pedestrian U-turn, heading back up the creek, now on the opposite side of the property, here’s two individuals, whom we deduce from the subtle stick-figure on the patch or ‘colors’ being worn, are Harley-riding members of something called ‘Satan’s Slaves’36 which was also bleary speed- blasted road-gristle, with beards like glazed doughnuts, on a break from the party at the end of the world…

      An ancient Ford pickup screeches down the unpaved driveway back onto Topanga Canyon Lane, having clearly just departed. One biker chortling mirthlessly to himself, the other, sporting a puzzled expression and a question on his lips:

      “What the fuck’s wrong with Big Stik? Just saw him tear by in the back of that pickup, he was holding his leg and howling like a motherfucker, looked like Roscoe driving, almost ran me off the road, fuckin’ prick…”

      “That stupid asshole got all cranked-up and went messing around up at the Injun shack-just like I told him not to, fuckin’ dumbass…” says the first biker, “So he’s up there pissin’ in the garden, looking through the window; casing the place-he thinks the Injun’s got a bunch of silver & turquoise, maybe some gold…biggest bunch of happy horseshit I ever did hear…so, in the middle of all this, he says he’s attacked by some kind of dog or coyote or something, sounded like a cartoon to hear him tell it…now, it’s not enough that the dickhead hallucinates this bullshit, but he goes tearing off like a panty- wetting-schoolgirl, tripping over a raised tree-root…you know how he’s got that one fucked-up knee? Well, the cartilage is all gone now, fuckin’ knee got bent all the way back in the other direction…but no, that wasn’t painful enough, so the moron gets up on his bike makes 50-60 yards down the road, spills, just about totaled his hog, been lying around here since last night, pissing and moaning all day long, says if he gets enough ‘medicine’ he’ll be alright, but I got tired of hearing his weepy bullshit, told Roscoe: ‘Take him to the hospital in Santa Monica’, so yeah, he’s all pissed, fuckin’ chump…”

      Suddenly, alert to the fact that I’m only a few feet away, the first biker whirls facing my direction, obviously caught off guard, squint-sneering suspicious, says, “What the fuck are you? Some kinda nark?”

      I, in fact, happen to have a giant hit of Gold & hash occupying my lungs at this particular juncture, so I just let it out right into his face. The only way to follow a massive blue cloud of that magnitude is to reply: “That’s right pal, why don’t you go ahead and inhale that, and I’ll read you your rights…”

      At first, the squint tightens at the perceived effrontery, then…as herbal smoke reaches snout, contacts olfactory receptors…a slackening of expression…reinforced by the sudden presentation of a crisp new joint for each of them, which they grab for eagerly, and you would too if you’d been up for a couple of days, speeding & boozing with nothing to smoke but harsh ten-dollar-a-bag “comersh” headache-weed that it is inevitably the biker’s lot to deal.

      “Like I told Big Stik as we’re throwin’ him into the back of the truck,” says the first biker, mellowing, “you got to learn to walk softer, dumbshit, haw-haw-haw…”

      I figure that a bit of cannabis diplomacy with the local hairy-thunderers would be a shrewd investment about now. I knew that the ‘Injun shack’ belonged to Elk, an anthropology consultant at UCLA, of Native American heritage that I’d been introduced to at Darla’s. Darla was my new neighbor from two cabins down the road, a hippie earth-mother who hosted open-invitation, semi communal breakfasts for the neighborhood. Melvin claims that Elk is a shaman, and though I tend to run a bit skeptical on such things (if I had a dime for every alleged ’shaman’ I’ve ever been introduced to, believe me, none of this would have been necessary) but I couldn’t rule it out in this case…

      I have appropriately hazy memories of a very informal, intensely medicated discussion between Milan Melvin, Tobacco, Emmet Grogan, and a notoriously irresponsible Doctor of Journalism37. One of the topics in that meandering discourse, was what to do about the Angels? Hell’s Angels that is, and though they differed slightly on the pros & cons of the Angel’s value in the New Society, they were unanimous in their assertion that the Angels, as disagreeable as they might be on occasion, were the Salvation Army compared to some of the other less well-known ‘bike clubs’. Satan’s Slaves, and the Gypsy Jokers being the most vile that they could think of, not to be confused with the slightly less vicious Straight Satans38 and Jokers Out of Hell39.

      “Yeah, ya gotta talk to Joe Dorgan40 up at the Plank, out in the Valley…nah, he doesn’t wear our colors, he’s Straight Satan-fuckin’ pussies-but he’s OK, we have an understanding, he can help you out…” says the first biker in response to a wooly derelict in a wizard’s cape & carnival mask’s discreet inquiry about things unwholesome…

      My new pals Mook and Shank seemed like routine biker foot-soldiers, although Grogan, Melvin, and the good Doctor, had all hinted at darker, meaner, sharper things up toward the top of that pyramid…

      ******************************************

      “Dog? No, don’t have one myself, and other than Shemp,” Elk says indicating Darla’s dog; an amiable, smiley-looking golden retriever now sitting at Darla’s feet, “You’d have to go 7 or 8 cabins up the road to find one in residence…and they’re all pretty laid-back, not exactly guard dogs…now, there’s coyotes around here, but they’d have to be awfully sick and hungry to attack anyone…”

      “This all sounds like drugs and dog karma to me,” says Darla, gazing off the porch into the rain. Darla had stopped by with a tureen of chicken-tortilla soup, served on the porch, inviting Elk as he passed by on the trail, to partake in a Soup Moment, which I see as a kind of random and spontaneous thing to be valued & shared. Guard your Soup Moments lest some nefarious corporation try to sell them back to you in a can. Not that you can’t have a Soup Moment out of a can if you’re hungry enough, but it really helps to have some ambrosial home-made concoction, served with cilantro & lime, a ripping good thunderstorm is a prime ingredient of course, and a chunk of hashish as big as a cheese-wheel, can be considered a plus as well.

      Neighbors Jessica & Sarah drop by with fresh-baked bread, strawberries, and grapefruit wine. As the new guests sample hash & soup, I inquire further about drugs, dogs & karma…

      “The drugs, I thought were pretty self explanatory, but dog karma?”

      “Some of the Satan’s Slaves supposedly worship the goddess Circe, who apparently is British, with red hair, shiny leather hip-boots, with lots of S&M posturing,” sez Darla.41

      “Kinky, provocative, even alluring, I must admit, but doesn’t Circe turn men into swine? Hardly seems Kosher…”42

      “A definite upgrade in this context. If you get a load of some of the tattoos these hombres are sporting, you’ll see just how un-Kosher it can get. Point being, that part of the Slave’s worship of Circe would seem to involve the drinking of dog blood…German Shepherds-freshly skinned & drained or so I’m told. Along with a lot of rape, necrophilia, pedophelia, and just generally freaking out, or all of the above simultaneously. It all has something to do with that house those guys were standing in front of.”

      None of the locals actually called it the ‘Spiral Staircase’-that came later, after Manson’s ascension to media-darling status. When referred to at all, it was as ‘the Snake-Pit’ by the locals, or ‘Gina’s Roadhouse’ by the bikers.

      Before we examine any specific details, we must pause to consider the risk of offending any delicate sensibilities by portraying any 60’s icons in a possibly less than flattering light. Start deviating from the party line and things can get ugly; like the crowd of fans waiting outside a Michael Jackson court appearance, or like Homer Simpson stomping an obnoxious child-actor at the movie premier in ‘Day of the Locust’.43 Well-maintained and updated websites abound, practicing various increments of spin & damage control, to protect the pristine and unsullied reputations of certain personages 40-50 years after the fact. So Remember: None of These People Ever Met Each Other Or Did Anything Illegal Or Immoral Or Even In Questionable Taste-And Even If It Sort Of Looks Like They Were In The Same Place At The Same Point In Our Chronology Doing The Same Thing-That’s Just Coincidence Or Something…

      “There seems to be a mingling of various interests over at the Snake Pit; there’s Georgina44 and her group-she owns the place-then there’s the British people in the capes with the pentagrams and goat’s heads,” says Elk.

      Soup’s finished, leaving a cumin & Tabasco afterglow, now polished to a finely textured, iridescent sheen by a fresh bowl of hash.

      “Then there’s Bummer Bob and Charlie the Fer-de-Lance, some new breed of acid pimp-messiahs popping up like mushrooms…no offence to the mushrooms. The party’s always on. Catch it during the day or early evening, and it seems harmless enough: swingin’ stoner party, music, strobe-lights, dancing, groovy guys & chicks balling on pillows and couches…a little later on, the real weridos start to crawl out of the woodwork: witches & warlocks, cult leaders & would-be messiahs…evidently a very competitive field these days. From there, the hardcore believers branch off into different rooms devoted to S&M in one, hardcore deviant kiddie sex in another, some sort of blood rituals involving small animals in another. Lots of acid, lots of scopolamine, datura, Demerol, speed, pretty much whatever you want…and plenty of it.”

      “Yep,” sez Elk, sparking hash in the bowl of a long clay pipe, then blowing a voluminous cloud off the porch out into the rain-drenched night, “You hear all kinds of stories up and down the canyon…dark things happening along the beach and up at the Moonfire Ranch45…Georgina supposedly has a place in the desert where they really cut loose-the kids say they sacrificed a bear out there, and drank its blood…sounds like bullshit to me, but you never know-I hope it is bullshit though…You usually don’t see Georgina until the last part of the cycle when all these rooms full of strange goggle-eyed people have passed into a deep scopolamine & Demerol comatose stone-slumber, then she proudly wanders through the place, holding her black candle, grinning…taking great satisfaction in her accomplishment…what’s that song she always whistles?”

      “Either ‘Danny Boy’ or’ Londonderry Air’-I think…she sings and whistles it,” says Darla nursing a cup of tea, “That house has come loose from its foundation, and I think most other residents in the area would agree; so has Gina. Doesn’t stop people from coming out and making the scene though. Sometimes famous and/or powerful people. Let’s say you’re a budding starlet driving down from Bel-Air in a red Ferrari…or a rock idol with your face plastered across billboards on the Strip, Gina’s is the ‘in’ place to wallow in all those kinky forbidden thrills that you thought you might be missing out on…Afterwards, there’s always the Canyon Ranch Motel46 where they’ve got some bungalows out back. Nothing too fancy, but easier to maintain your privacy of celebrity than waking up on the tilted floor of the Snake-Pit-although many do…”

      A bit more tea & hash…conversation addressing the concerns of mudslides, flooding, and sandbag availability, and I bid goodnight to some of my guests. Then, later…smoking on the porch, digging some late-night LA FM radio-Sandy Bull, Billy Holiday, Coltrane, Monk, Buffy Saint-Marie…some Ken Nordine, Desmond Dekker, Nina Simone, Lenny Bruce, Terry Riley, Howlin’ Wolf, Elvis…accompanied by the steady drizzling torrent, bringing propitious atmospheric conditions for sharp crystalline reception. Other than the occasional zap of faint lighting, smooth sailing…no static at all…I can see the inside of the cabin awash in the soft green glow from the FM, while back here on the porch… lashes of the Haight crashing hard off the “Summer of Love” into a lethal vortex of methamphetamine & sociopathic predators only six months ago…

      After the initial burst of light and color, could this be the Newtonian pendulum swinging back the other direction? Is any of this a random development at this point? Could it have been anticipated or planned? What, if any, is my part in all of this? What if the crowd hanging around at the Snake Pit is not an anomaly, but a prototype for The New Direction?

      • __ΞΞΞΞΞΞΞϴϘϴΞΞΞΞΞΞΞ__ Says:

        THE LAST STATUE (ch3-pt3) Says:

        “Hey man, ain’t seen you around…watcha been up to?” sez Mook as I pass the hash-pipe.

        We’re on the second floor of the Snake Pit…looking toward the entrance to the next room a topless chick dances furiously in the connecting doorway, framed by ominous pulsating strobe-lights from the other room…nude female day-glow body paint dancers line the far wall, while an impossibly effete dude wearing what looks like a drum majorette outfit topped by a Hussar’s shako and a monocle, is heard during a brief gap in the shrill din, to lisp:

        “This is such a boffo soirée…Gina really is the hostess with the mostest…”

        …as maniacal bug-eyed freaks with stringy hair & sharp pointed beards, wearing crude looking leathers & jewelry made from bones, teeth, and skulls from (mostly) small animals, chanting sinister sounding gibberish while beating on pots & pans and metal cans with various utensils including buck-knives & bayonets…taking hits from “community jugs” & odd-looking pipes incorporating more bones, claws, skulls & other animal parts. Some people looking lost, or hunched over…wild-eyed paranoiac, snarling at invisible enemies…oblivious to other bodies huddled sucking & fucking in various arrangements of number & gender…

        There’s a lot going on at the moment so…I’m possibly not paying full attention as Mook passes the pipe back, muttering something inaudible against the sonic barrage…Maybe take an extra-deep hit to acclimate myself to the frantic & unsettling action, and…instantly-harsh, acrid, chemical burning in throat & nostrils, jarring waves of sinister energy flash up the spine like a cattle-prod in a Jacuzzi…Visible, tangible lines of crackling force spreading through the room revealing the citizens therein to be skull-faced, death’s head gristle puppets dancing the jig of the doomed. What had seemed like chaotic free-form spontaneous activity, was in reality the oppressive manipulated convulsing of maggot-tainted meat marionettes with their strings now revealed in a shimmering, hi-res, 4-D, Bosch hologram of eldritch certainties…47

        Mook: “Hey man, did you get a hit? That’s the DPT I was telling you about…”

        Oh yeah, the pipe-right…I can feel the interior presence of long tentacled fingers probing deep into my brain, my memories, and my soul with icy loathing contempt…Opening my eyes to de-emphasize that vibe, the room seems to be distorting into non-Euclidian angles48 down into a claustrophobic trapezoidal chamber with no visible doors…it seems to take hours to make it to the wall, where I feel along looking for an opening…a doorknob…turn it, step through and…almost plunge from second-story sheer drop into the creek…grab fumbling onto the morning glory vine-trellis…scramble down side of house to gravel of creek bed…

        Through the side entrance to the ground level, I can see hooded persons surrounding a nude couple screwing with unholy convulsive vigor on the dirt floor while one of the ‘hoods’ drizzles the blood of a dying slashed chicken on them…

        I’m out of here.

        **************************************

        “There…” says Elk, after closing the ceremony by facing the four sacred directions,49 “The rest is up to you. Shit boy, you was lookin’ most poorly when I stumbled upon you this morning. Thought it was another knucklehead come to pee in my garden…”

        I’d only made it as far as Elk’s cabin, being able to go no further, having made what seemed a super-human effort just to get this far. It’d been a long haul on that trail in the dark, deranged, swizzled, twisted on some hellish drug…I could make out leering gnarled demonic faces in the tree-trunks, and in the dark spaces between the trees, I could see flashing glimpses of high-tech futuristic cities in slick, startlingly high-definition composition, purveying an unbearably oppressive feeling of ennui and twisted emotional distortion, a deep jaded emptiness from the point of view of a spiritual ingrown toenail.

        I could feel the distorted, grotesque asymmetry of the Snake Pit, pulling me back in the direction of that trapezoidal void. I was resolved with dead-grim certainty, that whatever happened, I was NEVER going back to that building again. The flesh seemed to rot away from my hands, exposing wires & stuffing, revealing sharp metal talons as I started digging in the dirt-clawing frantically at the ground for traction to keep from getting sucked back toward the trapezoid of closed dimensions…

        “Yep, the Pit’s a good place to pick up an astral-leech or two, ectoplasmic parasites, like quipoleth, as the cabbalists would say,” continues Elk, “I’ve just brushed those off for you, so you need to take this day to relax, have a good meal or two, make small talk and laughter with the guests that will soon be arriving at your cabin, and just take it easy for two more days after that. But at the end of the three days, if you want to make the healing complete, you have to go back to…yes, that’s right-the Snake Pit…” A grim prospect, to be sure. But I had to admit that I was light-years closer to feeling normal after Elk did his thing with the rattles & chanting.

        Still feeling a little buzzy and spaced-out, but otherwise OK…I mean, before that…I was just slumped here with my checks all cashed, my soul all spent, and my options all nixed. Now I could at least envision a foreseeable future & a tolerable, even comfortable present moment. Back at my cabin, Darla and her pals Sarah & Jessica, set about the making of coffee, tea, orange juice, blueberry pancakes, eggs, salsa, bacon, banana-bread, soup for later, and sliced mangos, strawberries, melons, kiwis, and pineapple. Elk sitting outside smoking, while Darla’s niece Emmy plays Frisbee with Shemp.

        The fizzy, evil-vibe hangover is soon eroded in a healing wash of cooking smells, and the warm laughter of lilting voices…

        And thern, it’s show-time, three days later, no putting it off…

        While approaching on the path branching from the creek trail, you can already hear the chant emanating from the Snake Pit:

        Chiiiinnnnnnggg…ON!50
        Chiiiinnnnnnggg…ON!
        Chiiiinnnnnnggg…ON!
        Chiiiinnnnnnggg…ON!
        Chiiiinnnnnnggg…ON!

        “Hey! You’re back…” bursts Shank, jovial, having latched onto a beautiful, but terminally morbid-looking Mendocino witch. “Tonight’s the night buddy! Father P.’s here, just seen D.K. & Brother Ely…ain’t everybody been in one place like this since the Boulder Creek run…”

        “Father P.?”

        “He’s a great leader, a man of fire, of judgment & inspiration” the Mendocino witch says thickly, taking a hit from the community jug, “he’s beyond the confines of human limitation, he’s God & Satan. I’ve been to his ceremonies up in Santa Cruz and Alameda County man, they go all the way. He’s a prosperous man in the straight world, the world of business, a millionaire & a doctor, but here tonight with his disciples-his companions of life, you have the chance to see real genius.”51

        “Look at that fuckin’ Mercedes, huh?” notes Shank, pointing to a sleek black vehicle that I hadn’t noticed previously. “If I couldn’t ride Harley, that’s what I’d be driving…”

        Random human flotsam & jetsam are gathered around a fire-ring over to the side of the house, where leathered troglodytes are hurling a magnesium plated VW engine into the blaze, then…balancing precariously on the rim of the fire-ring, deeply inhaling the fumes as they rise from the greenish flames…

        Ascending the actual spiral staircase, I reflect on Elk’s basic do’s & don’ts:
        1-don’t drink, eat, or smoke anything passed to me even if I brought it originally
        2-minimize all physical contact, beware the acid-kiss and the wet touch
        3-keep moving
        4-have a reference mantra handy to nullify any propaganda bullshit
        5-maintain calmness, allow no expression of fear

        This last point being the key motivation behind this whole General Mac Arthur trip in the first place. The basic idea being to confront the flash-point of The Fear, in a detached observational mode, transcending all emotional turbulence.

        I’d watched Nick Sands cook up batches of DPT before. Always sounded kind of dubious once you got over the similarity to DMT, which is dimethyltriptamine as opposed to [dipropyltriptamine dipropyltriptamine]. While DMT occurs in nature and is very similar in structure to compounds produced by the human brain, DPT occurs nowhere in nature as far as we know, and is possibly one of the most artificial substances that you can stuff into your cranium. Designated as EA-939 in the MK-ULTRA arsenal, DPT eventually found a place in the literature, as the “demon” molecule, an appellation that I personally find to be devastatingly accurate, bearing in mind of course, that some people like it, there being at least one cult in New York based on it, plus the fact that as of the first decade of the 21st century, it’s still legal just about everywhere, unlike say, DMT-the “spirit” molecule.52 But the point now, was to avoid any contact with the ubiquitous mind-zapping party-favors, no matter how seductive or aggressive in their attempted delivery.

        Darkened rooms seething with anticipation…stoned chatter occasionally breaks into handclaps & chanting: Father P. ! Father P. ! Father P. ! Father P. !…then sinking back into the general hub-hub to bubble to the surface again in a couple of minutes.

        The wooly leather crowd is out in full force, cutlery poised over pots & pans, ready to smite…mingling with vicious-looking bikers, S&M buffs, a smattering of hard-core Hollywood coke-spoon swingers, black-cloaked hooded snuff-mongers, and a random assortment of splatter-geeks, blood-guzzlers, mind crunchers & freak-out connoisseurs…all in breathless expectation for the arrival of the Grand One:

        “Father P!
        Father P!
        Father P!
        Father P !”

        Against the far wall, previously occupied by the nude body-paint dancers, are The Teacher & The Oracle: Winston Targarth-de Kalb, and Circe Targarth-De Kalb.53 Winston54 speaking to a select audience…

        “…embrace the dark beauty of inevitable death, by living to the fullest, with no limits, no illusions, no doubts. Make love if need be. Spill blood if need be. Give in to your darkest impulse to refine the light within. Thou shall kill, rape, plunder and torture without mercy if need be, to arrive finally, at the ultimate Truth. Fear not the End. Come to the Now. As it were-shall it be.”

        Then Circe55 addresses the multitude: “Some of the brethren will be passing out our pamphlets on vivisection56 And now, as promised, our very good friend & colleague, the divine Father P!”

        A bulky form strides purposefully through the murk, a momentary diversion as a teenage witch in the west corner indulges in a freak-out, writhing convulsively on the floor, a string of saliva extending from her mouth. It’s unclear to me, whether this faux pas is due to the heavy presence of El Chingon Grande, or from taking hits off one of those fucking scopolamine jugs that they’re constantly passing around. Father P. turns in the direction of the disturbance. Then, satisfied that nothing out of the ordinary has transpired, steps up to the skull-motif podium just yielded by the de Kalbs.

        Even still turned, while conferring with Brother Ely, there’s something kind of familiar about Father P. It’s a chilling thought, who in the world can I think of that would have any probability of winding up here? And why? It takes a minute to register. Always the possibility of misfiring synapses…could I have not come down from the DPT? Is this one of those flashbacks that I had always assumed existed solely in the imaginations of desperate defense attorneys? Because…holy shit! This guy looks just like Ronald Stark from the Himalaya Academy-no it IS Ronald Stark from the Himalaya Academy!

        Just as I recognize the bushy handlebar mustache,57: there’s Erickson taking a hit off of a bony-looking ivory pipe, a curved Malaysian dagger in his belt. With any luck, it’ll be a hit of DPT…hopefully give me a buffer for a clean getaway…Check please!

        Musn’t give in to the Big Fear, although that seems to be the intended accumulative gestalt effect of everything in this house. Just keep moving slowly toward the exit, mindful of the call I’d received just two days ago…

        “Uh…yeah, things are OK, as far as it goes,” Milan Melvin had said via long-distance, a hint of anxiety detectable even over the phone. “but I need to tell you, I talked to Roni. She hired a clean-up team with the cash you left for the basement de-tox, and I guess when the hired crew showed up to scour the basement, they got into a hassle with those two guys from down the hall that had been asking about you before you left. They were down there pulling the basement apart, looking for something, and wouldn’t let anybody else down there. She says that they were with some other guy who seemed to be in charge, a real high-powered go-getter…Roni found his vibe questionable enough that she clicked off a roll of film with a telephoto-lens, right through the open window, while they were arguing with the clean-up crew, right out on the sidewalk…”

        Roni’s photos had been steadily winning awards for several years now, during which, she had amassed a formidable arsenal of cameras & accessory equipment.

        “Real clear, crisp, sharply defined, possibly award-winning photos, which she made a definite point of showing to me…and it seems artfully clear from a number of angles, that the high-powered go-getter supervising the other two guys, is our old buddy Erickson.

        “Ah, one other thing that might just be relevant at this point is: I’ve been asking around about that underground railway for draft-resisters that Erickson was trying to set you up with, and between Grogan, Peter Berg, and John Bryan, I assembled a list of nine travelers who bought the ticket to take that ride, and in so far as anyone can tell, no one has seen any of them since. They may have made it to the end of the line, but they never reached their destination, if you know what I mean…”

        Well…a replay of that loop is definitely not helping in the looming anxiety department, so let’s just focus on the fact that Erickson and a couple of buck-knife brethren are now reconfigured right in front of the singular doorway leading to the staircase…so, no real choice but to retrace my wobbly escape route from my previous peccadillo.

        At least I can see the doors…ah yes, this is the one-careful-it’s still a sudden drop, even if you’re not frying on some demonic, soul-scorching pathogen of the spirit. The descent by morning-glory trellis seems almost routine somehow, with the supreme advantage of having both eyes focus in the same direction for this one. As I come to ground in the gravelly creek-bed, I can hear scuffling & gasping from the back of Roscoe’s old Ford pick-up, parked flush against the side of the house where Shank is semi-reclining, while the Mendocino witch gratifies some deep-throated oral fixation with quite some intensity & gusto, scopolamine-glazed eyes rolled back into sockets…getting pretty close to the Big Moment too, when Shank notices my presence…

        “Hey…” he manages weakly…nobody’s breaking stride, including myself as I casually saunter past. “For dessert…” I explain, setting a couple of monster-sized joints on a tree-stump.

        “Rotating tires upstairs bro…goin’ to my car for a case of beer-be right back,” I deftly elaborate, still moving in the general direction of away from the house. I didn’t really feel like I owed them a couple of joints or anything, but I was grateful that they at least could do this without being drizzled with chicken-blood.

        “Hurry back, she’ll do you next,” offers Shank solicitously. “Mmmmpppppffffff,” says the Mendocino witch.

        So, adios Topanga…

        ********************************************

        Recommendations & introductions lead to a home-base residency at “The Farm”, a very loosely-knit communal art-tribe gathering in the hills between Hollywood & Burbank, off of Barham Blvd.

        The decentralized center of this community includes members of the Modern Folk Quartet, to wit: Henry Diltz, and the annoyingly charismatic Cyrus Faryar. I mean, it’s really grating to watch one’s self succumb to green, venal jealousy, as virtually all members of the female gender melt into mushy compliant puddles at the very sight of the guy. And generally, these were not emotionally scarred teen runaways, but sophisticated, smart, witty, talented, silky, finely featured, voluptuous, otherwise probably unobtainable women, who, if not zapped at the very sight of the dude, would fall over swooning sideways once he made with the guitar, and started dishing out the Faryar universe of seductive tropical sunsets, and languid, amiable atmospherics, shockingly free of the clichés that nearly always mar such efforts, and still quite listenable 40-50 years later.

        The Farm was in many ways the polar opposite of the Spiral Staircase/Spahn Ranch scene, where probably the most sinister thing I can recall happening, was having every piece of clothing, blanket, sheet, towel, or other textile item in my possession, tie-died while I slept by the eponymous but beautiful, Tie-Dye Annie. Tie-dye still seemed fresh & vibrant in the context of that trippy & naive era, as opposed to the mass-produced Wal-Mart baby-boomer bummer that it has become in later years. With the motor-home safely ensconced & camouflaged at The Farm, I embark on extended tours of duty in Orinda ‘68, and Denver ‘69, until the Junebugs of the law arrive to shut ‘em down, or more favorably, till the run is completed.

        Now, a change of patron is in the wind, adios Mr. Billy…new money waiting in the shadows…

        Feelers from the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, lead to an invitation to the BEL base in Laguna where plans are quietly discussed for setting up an independent lab, although up to now at least, the Brotherhood has avoided direct participation in the manufacturing side of business.

        After 3 or 4 days just digging the groovy Laguna vibe, I happen to come across Leary over at Mystic Arts58…quick hello, howdy do-good to see ya…quick flashing patented smile, gleaming with the wholehearted sincerity commensurate to a politician in the middle of proclaiming “no new taxes”…59

        That night, while smoking in someone’s kitchen, we look out the window to see Feds in neo-military uniforms brandishing automatic weapons & infra-red night-vision goggles with parabolic microphones & dishes sweeping thru Laguna Canyon in the dark like they were in Nam, out to torch a gook village…

        Lots of knocking on, and in some cases, kicking down doors and waving of warrants, at least one of which seems to have my name on it, which is how I wound up living for a couple of weeks in a cave at the bottom of Bluebird Canyon, where my main human contact would be these kids, Tipper & Beaver and some of their pals, which is also where I started hearing major revisionist Leary stories…

        At first I thought the kids were just putting me on, maybe regurgitating some Charles Dickens jive, either from a movie or school assignment. But after a while, the consistency of a profile of Leary giving “You Gotta Learn The Value Of A Dollar” by hustling weed & acid for the Big Guys type-speeches to these kids maybe 12 to 16 years old, seems to give some credence to the Oliver Twist saga I hear when they make their deliveries of food, water, and dope.

        ***********************************************

        “I just don’t know anymore…” says John Griggs60 when we finally meet up, at his teepee on the high ridge in Idyllwild. We’d originally met while closing a deal in some tiny village near La Bufadora in Baja, involving some rigamarole about crossing the square, then: comb hair, light cigarette, open paper, remove shades etc.

        But here on the mountain edge of Idyllwild, now, as an honorary member of the BOEL myself, things are more relaxed…”I mean, we started this whole thing because we were inspired by Timothy & the purity of his whole vision, y’know?” Griggs is the leader of the Brotherhood, not by popular vote, nor by application of brute force, but by virtue of the fact that he is The Dude, the man with the plan, the Visionary…But now the vision is troubled, a house divided…

        “Tim was briefing us on Mr. Billy’s withdrawal from the scene, and this new guy moving in61, got unlimited supplies of ergotamine funded by big bucks, sent a rep with a kilo of pure liquid…OK, that’s some very impressive shit, but we’re fine just moving smoke, and the purest acid we can get, but this guy wants us to line up with his crew, and start with all this other shit that I’m not too sure about…STP, DPT, MDA…this new fucking ‘angel dust’ shit PCP, that’s total bad news…And speed for god’s sake…speed! Didn’t we all just see this crap play itself out, up in the Haight not too long ago? And now I’m ’sposed to line up & sign up to shovel more of that bullshit? I’ve seen more than enough already. So we’ve got Tim, and Michael Hollingshead (who, some people are telling me, is a British Intelligence agent) staying here, and it’s hard at this point, not to believe that they’re acting as shills for this Stark guy, giving me the hard-sell on the whole line of goods, and when they finally realized it was no-sale as far as I was concerned, they started going behind my back and talking to Fat Bobby and some of the others that might go for that kind of action…I can’t fucking believe it! Tim! I mean, we thought of this dude as a god! A saint or bodhisattva at the very least…And this girl Charlene comes to visit, staying at Leary’s tent with his daughter, and she winds up drowning with a head full of acid. Shit, we’ve had kids up here playing & swimming in that pond all along without anybody dying-we watch out for each other-it’s your brothers & sisters for god’s sake! It’s like a tribe! You just don’t let people just go off and die through negligence…And I’m not putting myself in a position to judge the man, but I’ve frankly seen Tim more choked-up about cancelled dinner reservations than he was about Charlene…Lotsa cops with questions nosing around…about five days ago, Leary takes his leave, and 24 hours later, the heat comes down: full scale raid, a big show of force, not nearly as damaging as it might be, but they still nabbed five of us. As you can see, there’s not many people on the property right now, at least till some of this bullshit settles down…”62

        Milan Melvin had called earlier in the week. No sign of Erickson or Stark, which is no surprise, since they seem to be here in the LA area. The two fellow-tenants from my former Cole street address, also on hiatus, which probably means I should be watching out for them down here too…

        MM apparently on the outs with Grogan however… “He’s got Janis shooting dope again, goddammit…” I’d heard this before from other people, including a disgruntled Country Joe Mc Donald.63 All I know is, once in a meeting at 1775 Haight, discussing whether or not there should be free acid, or whether there should even be acid at all, Grogan whips out his works, and oh, so nonchalantly, yet with a certain theatrical flourish that he also used when smoking a cigarette and practically everything else, ties off, cooks up, and shoots…mainlines-not skin-pops, a full adult portion, fruit of the poppy, finest kind too they tell me, without batting an eye or breaking stride in whatever bullshit filibuster he was perpetrating at that particular moment…

        And so, eventually it would come to pass that the Diggers were no more, bringing to an end the era of free-food and jovial Robin Hood-styled anarchy. Different versions of the demise of the Diggers usually center around a donation made by a former Viet Nam vet who forked over a quantity of heroin ranging from a couple of ounces, to two gallon-bottles full, depending on who is telling the story, or how much rope you feel is necessary for a righteous self-lynching…

        “I’ve been hearing about turf wars, and murders & reprisals, and all those dealers and distributors up north that got whacked,” Griggs continues, “I hear Stark has a major coke operation in place up there, with some very bad-ass enforcers on the payroll. Is that what we want to become? What happened to the community? A new way of living in the wisdom of the Tao..? Supposedly, the deal is that Stark is heavily funded by a certain Canadian crime family, with a Montreal mouthpiece that hooks them up to some Brit spies running Big Dope out of Montego Bay Jamaica, with all kinds of scams to bring big chunks of coke to the nostrils of America. These Canadians have been in business at least since prohibition, now they’re legit booze pimps with thumbs in a lot of pies.64 Question I had to ask myself goes something like: Are we really changing anything by becoming part of some giant booze octopus? And that would be disturbing enough, but I’m hearing these weird stories about the house on Waller street, the Zodiac & the King of Hearts, the Alameda County Death Cult65…What the fuck’s up with that? And why do I keep hearing Stark’s name come up in this shit? Through all this bullshit, the one thing I want to do, is try another hit of that Chained Lightning. That was beautiful…felt so good…But it’s been so hectic, I just haven’t had the slack for a whole trip. It sure seemed different. What’s the deal with that anyway?”

        “It’s cut with Lace; an ancient Persian recipe. Much better I think, than the additives you find in some of the leading brands…” to put it mildly.

        One liter-bottle of Lace was missing in the final inventory from the basement lab-blast, which would, if my memory serves me well, wind up temporarily in the possession of Abbie Hoffman, who threatened to dose the water of Chicago with it at the Democratic convention, to then be confiscated & stockpiled by some slick Feds, and later deployed as part of some ill-fated paranormal research project at Lawrence Livermore laboratories in the early ’70s. Still a few liters in stock, selectively available, if you know the right people…

        “The pure Lace trip is actually of much shorter duration, although it’s really quite negotiable.”

        “Man, this recent Sunshine they’ve been tabbing up isn’t even close-it’s some other shit that Stark & Sand cooked up in France or Belgium or wherever, and tabbed here to look like Orange Sunshine. Now it’s just a marketing gimmick-just another burger off the assembly-line…everybody’s richer & the emperor is very well dressed! What bullshit! Now I hear about a lot of pissed-off bike bros around LA saying they bought strychnine-laced mescaline and kerosene-flavored acid. So yeah…I could use a little taste of something fresh…”

        An hour later, it’s a done deal. Upon being advised that a pure Lace trip can be modified with catalyst additives, to last anywhere from 2 to 14 hours, Griggs signs on for a 3-4 hour jaunt, “Shit, I got four hours to spare, I thought it was gonna be like a big long acid trip or something…”

        “Yeah, it’s pretty malleable, and if you need to cut it short for whatever reason, we can have a cup of this Paraguayan paquiré tea all brewed up, snap ya out of it in a matter of minutes,” I show him the paquiré pouch, “Or on the other hand, this pra matté tea can take you further into it…kind of like ‘Alice in Wonderland’.”

        The first signs of the onset of a full-scale Lace trip is the sense of bejeweled gold filigree motifs superimposed upon your actual environment, morphing into mosques, temples, cathedrals, palaces…phantastic geometric designs sprouting gleaming rubies, emeralds, sapphires…a sharply defined sense of cosmic abundance, before dissolving into bizarre & often beautiful, alien-looking landscapes, and finally merging into streams of concentrated symbolic information, or any modular combination of the above & then some.

        I can see that Griggs is in that bejeweled-paradise phase, which I have to admit, is kind of startling even if you’ve been through it a few rounds…

        “Look at this! My teepee’s turned to gold…”

        We can both see jeweled patterns on every visible surface, and the almost imperceptible sense of the tent gently breathing, obviously an organic sentient being…

        Griggs is now convulsing in laughter at the punch-line of the cosmic joke…”Centuries of conquistadors, pirates, plunderers, looters & sackers, all killing, torturing, dying for gold, diamonds, rubies, jade, emeralds…when it was in their heads all along, but they just couldn’t see it…the more you seek it in the exterior, the more you lose it within…the pearl of great price-no need to seek in the world of appearances…it’s your soul-the only value there ever was to any of it…THE ROCK IS IN MY HEAD!”

        It was the last week of July ‘69, Gary Hinman is being hacked to death in Topanga66 while the Solar Lodge is being raided in Blythe67 Tate-La Bianca killings another week away…but four days before that, one week after sharing the Lace with Griggs up on the ridge, on August 4th, very quietly, with no media fanfare at all, adios John Griggs…OD’d in his teepee on a fatal dose of psilocybin.68

        Yeah, right. Well…yeah, I suppose it could happen. To determine feasibility, what we’d need to do is juxtapose the particulars of this case against a patterned database of similar toxic psilocybin fatalities…What? Y-you say there’s not enough-oh, it must be this server glitching again…So anyway, something about pure psilocybin crystals brought back from Switzerland by Nick Sand…let’s see…powerful pharmaceutical connections in Europe… anybody else we know who might have a hand in this deal?

        Nah, probably just another coincidence…

        When the barometric pressure is just right, in a suitably altered state of mind, standing on a ridge in Idyllwild, the high canyon walls of Benedict Canyon, in the blasted heath & waste of Blythe, the gold & purple interior of Stanford Chapel69 , or a Northern California speedway70, where a major rock-star sporting an Omega sigil71 will preside over festivities which will include an orgy of senseless violence, and at least one murder, advised & inspired by one very influential show-biz kid member of the Himalaya Academy72 , along with massive batches of bogus “Orange Sunshine” (more likely EA-939), and one of the very, very few major attorneys to have played an evil angel73 on the original Star Trek,74 summoned by a pack of strangely amoral, feral children, while a message left by Grogan at 710 Ashbury, two days before the free-concert, reads:
        ‘Charlie Manson Memorial Love-Death Cult Festival’75 …it’s still just possible to get a little whiff of an ill-wind that once blew from the long since demolished Spiral Staircase…

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