Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Timothy Leary Meets Manson in Folsom Prison

The August 1976 issue of Oui magazine has an article written by Timothy Leary where Leary talks about meeting Charles Manson at Folsom Prison.  A brief explanation of how Leary ended up in prison-

Leary's first conviction of marijuana possession after a December 20, 1965 arrest in Texas, where he received a 30 year sentence, was eventually overturned on appeal.  On December 26, 1968 Leary was arrested again in Laguna Beach California for possession of two marijuana "roaches".  He was subsequently convicted and received a 20 year sentence on January 21, 1970. 

Leary was assigned to work as a gardener in lesser security prison.  In September 1970 Leary escaped from that prison.  The Brotherhood of Eternal Love paid the radical group The Weathermen $25,000 to smuggle Leary and his wife out of the US.  After traveling to many different countries US authorities caught up with Leary in Kabul Afghanistan in 1972 and he was returned to the US, placed in Folsom Prison in solitary confinement.  Governor Jerry Brown released Leary from prison April 21, 1976 shortly before this article was written.

After reading this article I decided to send a scanned copy of it to Robert Hendrickson as he and his movie "Manson" are mentioned in it.   I figured Robert had read the article when it was first published but might not have a  copy.  I was surprised by his reply, Robert had no idea the article was written and did not know that his movie was shown in a California prison.  Here is his reply-

"I can't believe I didn't know about this.
For them to see my film, someone had to have made an illegal copy and it could have been someone involved with the Squeaky Fromme / Ford affair.
There's a post for you! Who stole the MANSON movie.
The FBI? The Secret Service? The Prosecutor? The defense attorney? Squeaky? The Judge? Jerry Ford?  The 3/4 inch tape we had to produce for the Court in Sacramento is the likely source.
Then the question is: did the Warden approve of the showing. OMG, no wonder Charlie is such an icon in prison. I made him bigger than life itself.  Maybe a special screening of MANSON in prison _ with 35 mm print- like at cinefamily would really make him a model/star prisoner. In the 80's we licensed MANSON to a Florida prison for screening.



Farflung said...

Scrolling through the cable channels I noticed a program called ‘Locked Up Abroad’. After realizing this wasn’t a women in prison movie akin to ‘Caged Heat’ or ‘Chain Gang Girls’, I suppressed my disappointment and continued to watch:

Locked Up Abroad: Hippie Mafia

I’ve noticed that when there is an information vacuum (typical with nefarious operations) the void will be occupied with myth, lore, and more; way more. The Brotherhood of Eternal Love story is certainly showing more than a few anachronisms and products of wishful recall.

From watching this program I’m pretty sure the BEL’s goals had nothing to do with altruism, but was more deeply seated in the time tested pursuit of self interest. These guys didn’t have any problem with making a great deal of money through the occasional sloppy and ham handed smuggling operation, and showed no desire to pass on the ‘love’ via discount pricing on the products. But without the Strawman of love, brotherhood, and mind expansion being tossed through the door before they enter, this group could be viewed as just another collection of low life drug dealers. Gosh, I wouldn’t want to be called that.

The oft used fact that LSD was a legal substance till the mid 60’s falls just as flat as the Strawman of Eternal Love. How many LSD labs or ‘retail outlets’ tallied sales, kept inventory, then paid sales and income taxes just like every other business? Sure would be a selectively fanciful argument to infer the legality of a product, while engaging in full blown tax evasion, which would shut down a Precious Moments gift shop in a minute. Instead the products were distributed through a front called Mystic Arts which specialized in beads man….. yeah, groovy, groovy beads. Which is good, because the constant traffic of customers is logical, since people need their beads baby, and will travel cross county to get quality beads. Please.

So these executives of the BEL end up in Mexico, acting super low key and casual. By super low key and casual, he means they get in a shoot out with police. But everything is cool and there’s no problem since they finally make it back home. And by no problem, I mean except for the police shooting thing, which most people can expect while visiting Mexico. I can certainly attest to wanting to shoot at some American tourists while I was in Mexico.

I’m sure you’ll experience the same surprise when Padilla decided to take a trip to Peru to score some cocaine. Without using mules, three very sassy, oblivious, and white Americans travel to some town in a group and actually appear to think they won’t draw any attention. Using a cab summoned by the desk clerk at their hotel, a surprised Padilla is arrested in his room by a cop who got tipped off…….. somehow. It’s such a mystery.

If this guy represents the best of breed of the BEL, then there should be some serious filtration applied to any stories which materialize regarding this organization. But perhaps my viewpoint is too harsh and these guys were criminal masterminds. Decide for yourself.

Patty is Dead said...

Patty has a long list of BEL names to cross reference times, places, associates, etc. It is a daunting task that will require much time and effort. Mr. Patty wants her to finish school first, dammit.

DebS said...

Besides my astonishment with the Manson movie being shown in prison, I chuckled at the idea that Manson, himself, acted as a sort of maximum security Welcome Wagon upon Leary's arrival to the bowels of Folsom Prisom. :)

Farflung said...

From the article: “Americans have…. elected Richard Nixon twice.”

I’m always leery (see what I did there?) of the intended meaning about such a statement.

I recall working in Alaska and listening to a colleague retell the previous night’s exploits at a local tavern. Another coworker (Jimmy) had gathered all his charms, and fixed his attentions on one gal from a group who was described as: missing a few teeth, having different colored eyes, matted hair, broken fingernails, a mono-brow, man hands, meth zits, and a hunch back.

Astonished, I looked over at Jimmy and asked “What on Earth were you doing hitting on her?” Without missing a beat, and remaining completely nonplussed, he said “I didn’t want one of the ugly ones”.

If there is some inference that Richard Nixon stands as an example of the best and brightest our nation has to offer, then they should first consider the others in the group.

Hunter S. Thompson wrote of the Democratic candidate thusly:

"There is no way to grasp what a shallow, contemptible and hopelessly dishonest old hack Hubert Humphrey is until you've followed him around for a while."

The other candidate, George Wallace said:

“Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!”

Doc Sierra said...

Imagine Manson and Leary on stage with Johnny Cash playing Folsom Prison Blues...... Charlie on guitar and leary on....tambourine?
.....Or maybe those thumb and index finger cymbals like Ginsberg used to play? If he didn't have enough musical talent to play those there's always the kazoo..... I'm just sayin'.....

Chris Till said...

There is a play, "Charles Manson and Timothy Leary at Folsom Prison," based on these events. Robert Greenfield also detailed the events in his awesome, but highly critical, bio of Leary, "Timothy Leary: A Biography." Re: BEL, from my limited understanding (based mostly on the two BEL books, Schou's "Orange Sunshine" and Tendler & May's "Brotherhood of Eternal Love"), there were two distinct eras of the BEL: the John Griggs era and the post-John Griggs era. Griggs was the founder, center, and most interesting persona in the BEL constellation. After his strange death in July 1969 (generally reported as a psilocybin overdose), the BEL seems to have lost its spiritual center.

Unknown said...

The US went all the way to Afghanistan to capture Leary and bring him back for marijuana possession? The World was surely backwards back then.

Doc Sierra said...

Yeah, things sure have changed. I still can't understand why it's still illegal. Every now and then the Feds come to California and bust some of the dispensaries. All they're doing is keeping the drug cartels in business.

Patty is Dead said...

@ Chris: It was purportedly a SYNTHETIC psilocybin overdose...where did he get it? Like, who MADE it, and WHERE? And who's ever heard of a psilocybin overdose anyway? Could be a red herring but Patty clings to these tantalizing little "coincidences..."

Patty is Dead said...

she clings...like an electrophile to a nucleophile. Like an alkene to a palladium carbon base. Like one benzoyl radical to another.

Someday she will have the time. Like, when she's dead maybe.

orwhut said...

Synthetic psilocybin is different from synthetic mescaline. Right?

Doc Sierra said...

Panamint Patty said...

she clings...like an electrophile to a nucleophile. Like an alkene to a palladium carbon base. Like one benzoyl radical to another.
You just blew my mind. Chemistry was the hardest class I took in college.

Chris Till said...

Re: the late John Griggs (aka Farmer John), founder of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, of whom Timothy Leary once said, "[John Griggs] was the holiest man ever to live in this country. I don't know what killed him." (Given to hyperbole, that's exactly the sort of pithy accolade that Leary would toss off.) According to Tendler & May, on August 3, 1969, Griggs and another BEL communard "decided to test the psilocybin that [legendary underground chemist Nick] Sand had brought back from Switzerland." According to Schou, on August 4, 1969, Griggs died from an "overdose of synthetic psilocybin." However, according to Lee & Shlain's generally reputable "Acid Dreams," Griggs overdosed on PCP. According to Tendler & May, Griggs' approximately final words were, 'it's just between me and God, and that's the way it's going to be.' According to Schou, Grigg's approximately final words were, 'om.' Which is a long way of saying, I agree, who has ever heard of a psilocybin overdose? Certainly, there were many deaths and tragedies around the BEL, they were a reckless and bold lot, but still it's the only lethal psilocybin overdose I've ever heard of.

Unknown said...

When I first read this years ago it was on a webpage which described it as fictional, i.e. Leary had been in the same prison as Manson (and knew it) so made up an account of how things would have gone down if they'd actually "rapped" (as the kidz say these days, amirite?).

My 1337 internet skillz being what they are I can naturally find no record of this anywhere. In other words- I have nothing useful to add, ignore this post. Vive la difference.

Unknown said...

What I'd really like is a transcript of the conversation Jerry Rubin had with Charlie. I'll try to contact the Rubester in my next seance and see if I can transcribe the Rubin-Manson discourse out of the aether.

Mark A. O'Blazney said...

The king is dead, long live elvis