26 08 2015

This has been a difficult piece for me to write and share. I suspect it is similar to the internal process I might undergo if I were inquiring as to whether I had been molested as a child, or raped when I was unconscious.  It involves overcoming the urge to denial.  It involves difficult situations with long-time friends.  It involves doing my best to understand if I am recalling buried memories, or merely falling into paranoid fantasies.  The truth, as they say, is out there, somewhere, and the only way I know to find it is to keep asking questions.

In that spirit, here’s the latest chapter in my inquiry into whether the demise of “The old Farm” was an “oops!” or a “whodunnit?” This is very much a work in progress. I have learned a lot in the course of my investigation.  People handed me “puzzle pieces” that fit in with other sources’ “puzzle pieces” and created a picture that the individual puzzle piece holders could not have seen, and that I could hardly have anticipated. I suspect there may be further surprises awaiting me.  For that reason, this chapter is largely couched in “supposes,” “perhapses,” and questions, and I have chosen not to name names. New information is always welcome. (In case you’re wondering, no, this story is not part of the “Green Hour” radio show broadcasts, but it does have some great music links, mostly in the section dealing with the community’s musical outreach.)                                         (on  8-27-15, I added a paragraph to “The Plot Thickens section, making this v.3.0.1.  I have noted in the text that the paragraph is a later addition.)                            (further additions and corrections made 9-6-15, and enough material added 12-7-15 to rate changing the title number to “3.1.” A small, but significant, further addition was made 12-21-15, to the “Mystery Drums” section, moving the version number to 3.1.1.) (further additions made 1-15-16, bumping it to 3.2)

Here are links to my earlier efforts on this topic: 

EDWARD SNOWDEN AND THE FARM focusses on how a particular NSA document that Snowden released might relate to what happened on The Farm, recounts the community’s history of involvement with a number of other sociopolitical movements, and points out how those groups and others were demonstrably sabotaged by covert government action.

SNOWDEN AND THE FARM, PART TWO    is largely a response to the question, “why does it matter at this late date?”



In a speech in Seattle last March, Robert Scheer, author, investigative journalist, editor of the “Truthdig” website and former editor of Ramparts Magazine, had this to say:

I know why they were after King, because King was not staying put. King was a moral force. King said, I have to deal with poverty and I have to deal with war. And after Selma, I remember, because I published it in Ramparts, King’s speech at Riverside Church condemning the U.S. as the major purveyor of violence in the world today. He said, How can I condemn violence in the ghetto by young kids, and then you draft them and you send them off on to fight in Vietnam to kill and be killed? So King had become an irritant to people of power, a big irritant. When he died, he was there working with garbage collectors in Memphis who were on strike, dealing with poverty issue. So he wouldn’t stay put in his moral concerns…..

….if there is a King alive today, he will be destroyed and you won’t even know it. I’m not talking about the creepy stuff like you control his car and smash into a cliff or do all the other things that can be done with modern technology. I mean, all of us are vulnerable to people who want to smear us, whether they use true stuff or false stuff, whether they make it or they manufacture it. Scott Ritter, who was the most effective critic of the whole phony weapons of mass destruction, he gets entrapped by a police agent in some kind of Internet sex thing and serves time in jail. Elliott Spitzer, the most effective critic of the banks when he was attorney general in New York and then governor, suddenly it’s a big deal that he went to a house of prostitution or something, and he’s destroyed. So the ability to destroy people, like a Martin Luther King or anyone else, is out there. It’s in the hands of all these government agencies, all these police forces. Trust me, it’s going to be rampant.

I share Robert Scheer’s strong suspicion that King was not killed by a random nut with a gun, but by a concerted government effort, and I share his assessment that the government decided that it would be better to nip any possible King successors in the bud, without going to the extreme of murdering them, and thus turning them into martyrs.  Assassinating someone’s character or sabotaging their organization is a lot less messy, and leaves no martyrs. Stephen Gaskin, too, was “not staying put.” He was a major figure in a movement that was bringing together the back-to-the-land counterculture, Native Americans from the US and Central America, inner-city African-Americans, anti-nuclear power activists, and peace activists, among others, to challenge the dominant paradigm.  Why wouldn’t the government want him out of the way? Read the rest of this entry »


16 04 2011

We passed the equinox on the last full moon, replete with a once-every-twenty-years “super moon.” and my wife and I observed the occasion with our neighbor Ed Haggard and his posse of drummers, singers, and dancers, who are known around Nashville as “The Love Drums.”

The gathering was very sweet, if a little bizarre–it was held at a private hunting reserve about an hour and a half west of Nashville, in a well-appointed lodge decorated with stuffed animals, isolated in the middle of 2,000 hilly, wooded acres, very private and quite lovely.  I suspected, and our hostess confirmed, that this was unlike any other gathering the lodge had  ever  witnessed.  It felt like a tribe of barbarians partying in a Roman villa.

But there was nothing debauchy, raunchy, or even uncouth going on, just several dozen people celebrating life, the end of a long, cold winter, and the beginning of a wide-open spring, as we enter a time when it is increasingly obvious that unintended environmental effects are snowballing and there is no telling what once-in-a-thousand-years catastrophe will surprise us next.  In that situation, the best way to be prepared is to stay loose, and dancing and other forms of celebration are an important part of staying loose.

A huge, sturdy coffee table  the size of a small stage dominated the “dance floor,” and the first dancers on it were perhaps a half-dozen 7-8 year old children, gradually joined by adults.  This all-ages, inclusive vibe (there was plenty of silver hair present, too, and all ages in between) is one of the things I enjoy most about Ed’s “Whizbangs,” as he calls them, and one of the reasons I feel much happier dancing at a “Whizbang” than at a bar–and, believe me, I’ve done my share of dancing in establishments that sell alcohol.  (One of my favorite singer-songwriters, James McMurtry, says of himself, “I’m not a musician, I’m a beer salesman.”)

Ed and the central core of the Love Drummers were at one end of the room, but many “audience” members also drummed, adding their own flourishes to the music.  That’s one of the things I appreciate most about the Love Drums–the all-too-common separation into “audience” and “musicians” is blurred, if not erased.  This is not “entertainment,” in which a passive audience hopes to be impressed by the performers’ charisma.  This is a participatory  event, a–dare I say it?–communion.   Of course, rock n’ roll has long delighted in the energy that cuts loose when an audience gets up and dances.  That’s some of the magic of the Grateful Dead, just to name one band strongly affected by their audience.  In the Dead’s case, the scene outside the venue frequently turned into a heavily countercultural “temporary autonomous zone,”  and was as much a part of the show as the music.  At the Love Drums’ equinox gathering, I felt that same sense of community.

Here’s a story for you.  In the late summer of 1970, I went to a Grateful Dead show in San Francisco, and was dismayed to find most of the audience sitting on their asses, expecting to watch the Dead play.  I got yelled at by people behind me when I stood up to dance.  They were mad because they couldn’t see the band.  (There’s a word for people who like to look but not participate.  Not my kink, thanks.)

The Dead settled into “Lovelight,” and who popped out on stage to duet with Pigpen, but–Janis Joplin.  And what did she and Mr. McKernan do?  They chewed the audience up and down for not dancing, but to no avail.  I finally migrated to the back of the room where a few people were moving to the music and enjoyed the last half of the show, anyway.  Just a couple of weeks later, Janis was dead from a heroin overdose, a broken heart, and too much, too soon.

That was forty-one years ago.  Janis, Pigpen, and Jerry are all gone, but the Love Drums remain, and ya gotta work with whatcha got.  So there we were, one big happy family, dancing the night away.

Next day, when I opened myself up to news from the big bad world outside, I found out that Aashid Himons, best known as the focus of a band called “Afrikan Dreamland” here in Nashville back in the eighties, had died on that full moon day.  He had been ill for years and hadn’t played in public in a very long time, but in many ways he was the spiritual father of Ed and the Love Drums, and a great practitioner of informal, participatory music.

“African Dreamland” consisted of Aashid playing guitar or keyboard and singing, backed up only by a couple of drummers, for most of the history of the band.  This made for very simple but deeply moving music, music that benefited from, but did not depend on, the modern miracle of amplification.  Another dimension of their music was its subject matter. Aashid liked to say that he played “message music” rather than “mating and dating” music–not that a fair amount of mating and dating didn’t go on to the infectious grooves he laid down, but his music helped propagate his vision of a just and peaceful future, not just the continuation of the species.

Music: Afrikan Dreamland, “Apartheid”  (excerpt)

And that’s where we get to yet another core difference between music like The Love Drums, Aashid, and the Grateful Dead, and the music you are likely to hear in a bar on a Saturday night.  Most popular music is unreflectively about “mating and dating,” but some musicians are aware of the close link between music and magic, that songs are not just poems set to music, they are also incantations, spells that help create a certain state of mind, for better or for worse.  To me, it was not coincidental that Janis Joplin, for example, who sang so many songs about heartbreak, died young, or why somebody was killed at Altamont while Mick Jagger sang “Sympathy for the Devil.”  What you pay attention to, you get more of, as a teacher of mine used to like to say.

These qualities, conscious intention in  the music and conscious fusion between the musicians and the crowd, are, to me, defining qualities of the music of “the new paradigm.”  And, as I said, those of us who play and appreciate this new paradigm music are, in a sense, barbarians to America’s Roman Empire.

The Empire depends on people who are willing to be cogs in a vast machine.  We are not.

The Empire depends on people who will not challenge its authority and priorities.  We do.

The Empire depends on people being good consumers.  We realize that “consumption” is a fatal disease, and do not look for happiness through the accumulation of material goods.  Whoever dies with the most toys is not the winner.

The Empire depends on people accepting shallow, dysfunctional relationships and mediating their emotional pain with pharmaceuticals.  We insist on listening, expressing, and feeling deeply, and on giving people the room they need to go through their changes, even if it means they get a little weird for a while.

Differences such as these are very threatening to an empire whose established religion is, as I have said many times before, radical fundamentalist materialism.  The Empire fights back  by finding material ways to push  against the influx of barbarian sensibilities.  One way they do this is through building codes, such as the complaints that have just trashed Sizwe Herring’s Earth Matters community garden.  (More on that next month!) Another way the Empire fights back is through the war on some drugs.

Let’s face it.  The real reason our government is so unswervingly, unscientifically opposed to the legalization of marijuana, mushrooms, mescaline, ecstasy,and LSD is because these are the portals through which barbarians enter and undermine the Empire.  These substances unleash the unfettered inner barbarian in those who take them, and that is more terrifying  to the empire than bomb-toting Middle Easterners..

For instance, in the 80’s and 90’s, our government spent 10 years infiltrating a circle of chemists who were making LSD and ultimately sent them all to jail.  The government has not exhibited this kind of diligence against the alleged threat from Al-Qaeda.  If that had been the case, those airplanes would never have hit the twin towers. Similarly, the DEA massively infiltrated those “temporary autonomous  zones” at Grateful Dead concerts, sold people blotter paper with no LSD on it, and then arrested them for intending to buy an illegal substance.

The DEA’s entrapment of young, open-minded, overly trusting American youth sent tens of thousands to jail, where some of them remain to this day.  Even the ones who are no longer incarcerated remain scarred and scared, “rendered infamous,” often unable to vote or find employment because of their “criminal record,” their life paths thrown into disarray by the time and money sucked from them by the legal system.

Since “the war on some drugs” was declared, America’s prison population has quintupled, with nearly half a million prisoners incarcerated for drug related “crimes.”  We’re talking about 2.3 million people behind bars, with an additional five million on probation.  The US now has a higher percentage of its  population jailed than any other country in the world, although I suppose you could argue that some highly repressive societies, like China, North Korea, Burma, and Singapore have effectively incarcerated their entire populations.

I would like to submit that the many voices who urge an end to America’s Inquisition against the inquisitive because it has ruined so many people’s lives don’t understand the Empire’s logic.  The Empire wants to ruin the lives of the inquisitive, because it’s easier and cheaper to simply exclude people than it is to actively imprison them.  Just as China periodically “lets a thousand flowers bloom” in order to identify and silence dissident voices, so the Empire has a vested interest in using the “war on drugs” to identify and neutralize those who oppose its policies.  Even if someone who appreciates the virtues of marijuana manages to avoid legal strictures, he or she is effectively barred from running for public office because of the danger should an opponent uncover the candidate’s “dirty little secret.”

The Empire’s offensive against our barbarian invasion will, I believe, ultimately be in vain.  As radical fundamentalist materialists, the Empire’s minions don’t understand that the material substances they have outlawed are, in a way, merely catalysts, catalysts that have set a process in motion that cannot be stopped by even the most draconian enforcement of the drug laws.  (By the way, I have never seen or smelled any marijuana at a Love Drums Whizbang.)  Once it has been opened, a human mind is almost impossible to close, because the memory, the feeling, of openness persists, and never stops protesting any attempt to shut it down or close it off.  The “barbarian” mindset, I believe, is of a higher order of being than the anthill, cog-in-a-machine state of mind demanded by the Empire, whether in English or Chinese.  “Barbarianism”will out.

Now, many people will say, “This all sounds very noble, but you doped-out hippiedippies aren’t the real barbarians, you’re just play-acting, spoiled, naive, children of the Empire.  The real barbarians are in the slums of Mexico City, Rio, Lagos, Cairo, Kolkata, Beijing, and Capetown, and if they have half a chance they will eat your vegetarian lunch and then barbecue you for the meat course.  Face it, without that ‘Empire’ you love to hate, you’d be toast.”

I think that’s off-base in several directions.  The first thing we have to understand is the interplay and differences between “third world” and “fourth world.”  Fourth world people are tribal, and live in balance with nature.  There aren’t a lot of them left, but, in the best-case scenario, that’s what we barbarians will recreate here in the heart of the Empire.

Most traditional fourth-world people have been sucked out of the fourth world into the third world, which is the vast belt of urban and rural poverty that characterizes human life on those parts of Earth’s landmass that lie, roughly, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn—that part of the world where you don’t need a well-insulated house to survive the winter, and are thus free to live in greater poverty than you can get away with in colder climates.

But, as so often happens, I am digressing.  Fourth world people don’t have much money, but don’t feel poor.  Third world people don’t have much money and do feel poor.  Many of these third-world people retain the social and survival skills of their fourth-world heritage.  Give them half a chance and they’ll go back to fourth-world life.  They all know they were happier that way. It’s just that the Empire, the first world, pushed them out of their sustainable lives by expropriating their tribal lands and forcing them into a money economy.  I believe that, if they were ever given the choice, the people of the third world would rather grow, hunt, or herd their own lunch than eat yours or mine.

What the Empire fears when it looks at the third world is not the people, but its own greed and suppressed guilty conscience.  When we who are undermining the Empire complete our mission, the Empire will release its hoarded and ill-gotten wealth and the people of the third world will be able to transition, in place, not backwards but forwards into a new, even more fully conscious, fourth world.

I wish I could say I think the process will be all rosy and peaceful, but there are so many people, and so many resources that have become so depleted, that I think widespread strife and loss of life will be part of the great readjustment.  I’m not happy about that.  Every human being is precious, unique, and capable of deep insight, and it is a tragedy when a life is extinguished, with or without those amazing capabilities being realized.

Does it seem as if we have wandered a long way from The Love Drums and the equinox, from Aashid and Earth Matters?  From a “Deep Green Perspective,” we haven’t moved an inch.  We’re just gazing in (hopefully!) wonder at the macrocosm that contains those microcosms.  You can’t look at it this way all the time, but it’s important to see it this way some of the time.

music:  Ed Haggard and the Love Drums–“Haitian Bolero”


10 08 2006

There’s a lot of psychiatric meds being sold these days, in case you hadn’t noticed. And there’s a lot of cui bono questions around all those prescriptions.

Cui bono—who benefits? There’s all kinds of evidence showing that drug companies make massive profits from psychiatric medications, even while unbiased clinical tests show that many of them are of little or no benefit to most people. There’s a whole mental health industry that needs chronic nut cases in order to keep its stockholders and salaried employees happy. There’s research that’s sent normal people with fake symptoms into that system and discovered that it’s very difficult for people to get out of the mental health system once they’re in it, no matter how normal they are.

But that’s not what I want to talk about right now. I want to talk about the assumptions behind our current mental health system, assumptions prior to even the profit motive: what is the mental health profession trying to accomplish? What is their basic vision? What are the results of that basic vision? Are their other possible “mission statements” for a mental health movement, that might produce very different results from those we are dealing with due to the current model?

I would submit that most members of the psychological/psychiatric world see their mission as “helping people fit in to society.” That’s why so many children are on ritalin, and why so many adults are on everything from anti-anxiety medications to anti-psychotics. Society needs to function smoothly, and it is up to individuals to adjust to society by any means available.

Is something wrong with this picture? No, from the mainstream perspective. Early psychologists had a revolutionary, we-can-change-the-world attitude, but since Freud wrote “Civilization and its Discontents” the mainstream has seen its task as helping people adjust to an imperfect world. Well, hey, it is an imperfect world and we need to get used to it, but not THAT used to it. The world-as-it-is is not some absolute that we cannot change. We are not ants in an anthill, but mainstream psychology tends to see society in that way, and treat individuals accordingly.

In the 1950’s, some psychologists, chief among them Abraham Maslow, made the observation that, once basic human needs of food, shelter, and emotional security are met, a different set of priorities kicks in—a need for what Maslow called “self-actualization.”

Dr. C. George Boree summarized Maslow’s idea in the following words:

“(Self-actualized people are)” reality-centered, which means they (can) differentiate what is fake and dishonest from what is real and genuine.  They (are) problem-centered, meaning they (treat) life’s difficulties as problems demanding solutions, not as personal troubles to be railed at or surrendered to.  And they (have) a different perception of means and ends.  They (feel) that the ends don’t necessarily justify the means, that the means could be ends themselves, and that the means — the journey – (is) often more important than the ends.

“(Self-actualizers) also (have) a different way of relating to others.  First, they (enjoy) solitude, and (are) comfortable being alone.    And they (enjoy) deeper personal relations with a few close friends and family members, rather than more shallow relationships with many people.

“They (enjoy) autonomy, a relative independence from physical and social needs.  And they (resist) enculturation, that is, they (are) not susceptible to social pressure to be “well adjusted” or to “fit in” — they (are), in fact, nonconformists in the best sense. “

(note to readers—I changed the tense of these sentences from past to present)

“Reality-centered,” eh?  Well, we all know about where the reality-based community is at, don’t we?

Right down the list, Maslow’s vision of higher consciousness clashes with anthill psychology’s need for smoothly fitting cogs in the societal mill.

Paying attention to the difference between what is fake and what is genuine? No, no, don’t you dare pay any attention to the man behind the curtain.

Treating life’s difficulties as problems to be overcome rather than caved in to? You’re asking people to make waves, dude.

The journey is more important than the goal? What are you, some kind of hippie?

You enjoy solitude? Without even a TV or radio on? That’s scarey! I wouldn’t wanna hafta listen to what’s goin’ on in my head! Keep me distracted, please!

Deep personal relations with a few friends? You’re askin’ to get hurt, buddy.

Independence from physical and social needs? How ya gonna be a good consumer? I mean, isn’t life about buying things and showing off your ability to buy them?

Maslow’s line of thinking was not picked up by university psychology departments—there was no drug research money in it–and now his “third stream psychology” is the province of a dying breed of twinkly old men and women who still work wonders for the lucky few who find them. They send their patients out with solutions, not prescriptions. All the drugs that facilitated third stream psychology—MDMA, psilocybin, LSD and similar mind-manifesters, have been expressly forbidden by the US government, with greater penalties attached to their use and distribution than for many violent crimes. Can’t be disrupting the anthill, now.

It’s not just about wanting to feed the drug companies. The third stream—call it evolutionary psychology—has been purged from America’s consciousness because it is evolutionary, and sometimes messy. Beings who are on their way beyond being ants do not fit into ant colony life very well. Having it be OK to get a little crazy at times (an essential part of the evolutionary process) is not conducive to orderly life in the anthill.

But anthill psychology assumes a steady-state society, and that is where it falls down. We are running out of the resources that have fueled our current trajectory, and need to change course so we don’t hit the climate change/peak oil wall that is looming up fast. We need to evolve past being ants. So don’t reach for that pill bottle, folks. If you haven’t changed your mind lately, are you sure you still have one?

music  Greg Brown, “One Cool Remove


8 10 2005

A friend of mine learned something surprising from a psychotherapist he befriended. “If I knew that some of your friends smoked marihuana, and I didn’t report them to the police, and it came out that I knew they used marihuana and hadn’t reported them, I could permanently lose my license.” As he inquired, he discovered that she was likewise obligated to turn in to the police any client of hers who admitted using marihuana.

Let’s leave aside for the time being the issue of the efficacy of what I would have to call Big Psychotherapy and its arsenal of prescription drugs, and just look at the question of what it means to be obligated to report marihuana use among people with whom you are supposed to be building trust in a a therapeutic relationship.

Something the government never seems to “get” is that you can’t expect to hear the truth from people if they know you will punish them for saying it. If you threaten people, they will tell you what you want to hear. That’s why physical torture doesn’t work. So why were they doing all that ugly stuff at Abu Gairab? Because humiliation breaks people better than pain does, that’s why. But I digress.

I am amused sometimes at the number of self-styled herbalists who don’t use marihuana and even talk against it—because it appears to be a herbal medicine that really, truly, unarguably, don’t need scientific statisitical studies to notice, WORKS. Those who have done scientific studies on it have found that it loosens neural pathways, making it harder for users to behave habitually—for better and for worse. Inasmuch as neurosis is basically ingrained habit, this should be tremendously interesting to psychologists, but inasmuch as it’s an unpatentable herb whose effects derive from the synergy of a complex array of compounds, and not simply the action of THC, there is no money in researching it, so the research is not going to happen. Thank you, for-profit medical system.

It seems that the law regards marihuana users as ipso facto incompetent—marihuana smoking parents are unfit to raise children, marihuana smoking judges are incompetent to interpret the law, and even minor traces of cannabis metabolites, which stay in one’s bloodstream for up to a month after ingestion, are evidence that one is too inebriated to drive a motor vehicle….like having “one drop” of “negro blood” in the old south, cannabis is considered a contaminant in any quantity.

That’s an interesting comparison, isn’t it? Pretty much everyone agrees it’s wrong to discriminate or even just mouth racial slurs about anyone anymore, except for a very few hard-core Republicans clustered around Bill Bennett, but most people, including most Democrats and even some who consider themselves to the left of the Democrats, have no problem characterizing all marihuana smokers as incompetent degenerates—in spite of the fact that about a third of the country has tried it and someplace between ten and twenty percent of us still smoke it, in spite of widespread drug testing that probably does more to cut consumption than peoples’ experience with the weed itself. And the country is not overrun with weed-puffing incompetent degenerates—the majority of incompetent degenerates I encounter are card-carrying members of the Republican and Democratic parties, lifting their cocktails high as they toast the prospect of a drug-free America.

Marihauna users, if they were not threatened by prosecution, would freely admit that most of the time the effect of marihuana is not much stronger than that of coffee. Like coffee, they would say, it helps them in a thousand different ways with energy and insight around work, family, creative endeavors and recreation. So just what is it that the government is so afraid of?

Almost fifty years ago, the CIA did widespread testing of a wide variety of psychoactive susbstances, from marihuana to LSD. Their final report on this research was so secret that all known copies of it were destroyed. I believe that if we could find out what was in that document, it would state that marihuana and the stronger psychedelics are too good at increasing peoples’ sense of self-worth and autonomy and too good at sharpening their insights into the foolishness of authority and are therefore too threatening to the corporate hegemony that the CIA is dedicated to protecting, and therefore must be suppressed at any cost.

The Green Party is dedicated to fostering individual self-worth and autonomy. That’s the only real way to build a stronger America—to allow people to find their own insight and inspiration, and band together as equals rather than as the ignorant minions of some charismatic know-it-all like George Bush or Bill Clinton. In the name of honest discourse, the drug laws must change.

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