Timothy Francis Leary

Timothy Francis Leary

October 22, 1930 — May 31, 1996leary.1

When hearing the name Timothy Leary a person’s next thought will likely be LSD. Though his life began far from researching the possible use of LSD and other psychedelic substances in treating mental illnesses, his (and then Richard Alpert) Harvard Psilocybin Project forever connected him to those three letters.

Timothy Francis Leary

Pre project

Leary was born in Springfield, Massachusetts and was a happily rebellious student at all levels.

In high school he wrote controversial articles for the school newspaper.

The College of the Holy Cross dismissed him for repeated rule infractions.

From Holy Cross, he went to, of all places, the West Point Military Academy where, not surprisingly, he continued to ignore rules. Within a few months, the Academy’s Honor Committee asked him to leave, but he chose to remain. The Academy silenced him, that is, no one spoke to him, shunned him, ignored him.

Leary remained until the Academy revised its decision and Leary left.

Timothy Francis Leary

Meets Psychology and the Army

His next academic stop was the University of Alabama  in 1941 where he first began his studies in psychology.  Broken rules again led to expulsion.

The Army drafted him in 1943 and while in the service, he continued his education as his various postings, all of which were state-side.

While in the Army, he married Marianne Busch and they married in 1945.

Timothy Francis Leary

Doctorate

After leaving the Army with an honorable discharge, Leary continued his education at various institution at various levels. He eventually received his doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1950.

The rest of the 60s was an uneasy time for Leary. His wife committed suicide in 1955 and he began to raise his son and daughter alone while teaching at various institutions. He had academic success in terms of his reputation.

He became part of the Harvard faculty in 1959. In 1960, he and Richard Alpert (now Ram Dass) began to explore the effects of psychotropic substances on the human mind via their Harvard Psilocybin Project.  At the time, neither LSD nor psilocybin were illegal.

Because of the research’s methods (for example, Leary and Alpert were sometimes under the influence while doing their research), “Leary and Alpert’s colleagues challenged the scientific merit of their research, as well as the seemingly cavalier attitude with which it was carried out (e.g. poorly controlled conditions, non-random selection of subjects).  Editorials printed in the Harvard Crimson accused Alpert and Leary of not merely researching psychotropic drugs but actively promoting their recreational use. (Harvard site)

By the spring of 1963, Harvard dismissed both Leary and Alpert.

Timothy Francis Leary

Millbrook, NY 1963 – 1967

Timothy Francis Leary

The wealthy heirs Peggy, Billy, and Tommy Hitchcock found Leary’s work interesting and offered him a mansion in Millbrook, NY. There Leary and Alpert continued their unorthodox research under the aegis of the Castalia Foundation.

It was at this same period that California’s Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters had also began their exploration of the psychedelic state. While strict researchers criticized Leary and Alpert’s methods as unscientific, the Pranksters had no scientific aims to begin with. Theirs was a recreational use that had mind expansion as a wonderful side effect.

The the two coasts met at the half-way point of the Pranksters famous bus ride across the US in 1964. Because of the two groups difference in approach, the meeting was brief and not nearly the historic uniting one might have expected.

They agreed amicably agreeing to disagree.

Timothy Francis Leary

Leary spreads his gospel

In the mid-60s, Leary began touring colleges during which he spoke of starting one’s own religion. (pamphlet), but it was at the January 14, 1967 Human Be-In that Leary spoke his famous phrase–Turn on, tune in, drop out.”

Timothy Francis Leary

Legal encounters

Leary regularly had drug-related run ins with authorities.

  • December 20, 1965, police arrested Leary for possession of marijuana and on March 11, 1966,  the court sentenced him to d to 30 years in prison, fined him $30,000, and ordered him to undergo psychiatric treatment. He appealed the case on the basis that the Marihuana Tax Act was unconstitutional.  On May 19, 1969, The US Supreme Court concurred with Leary in Leary v. United States, declared the Marihuana Tax Act unconstitutional, thus overturning his 1965 conviction
  • December 26, 1968, Leary was arrested again in Laguna Beach, California, this time for the possession of two marijuana “roaches.” On January 21, 1970, the Courts gave Leary  a 10-year sentence for this 1968 offense, with a further 10 added later while in custody for a prior arrest in 1965, for a total of 20 years to be served consecutively. He escaped in September 1970 from the low-security prison in which he was held. The anarchist group the Weathermen helped his get out of the country and Leary fled to Algeria. He later went to Switzerland where in 1972, at the behest of US Attorney General John Mitchell, the Swiss government imprisoned Leary for a month, but refused to extradite him.
  • In 1972, the US government succeeded in arresting Leary while he was on a US airline in Afghanistan. Upon his return to the US, California authorities put him in solitary confinement in Folsom Prison.  Leary continued his writings while in prison. California Governor Jerry Brown released Leary on April 21, 1976.
Timothy Francis Leary

End story

Timothy Francis Leary

End story

Timothy Francis Leary

After prison, Leary lessened his proselytizing of if not his personal use of psychoactive drugs.  In the 80s he said that computers would be the LSD of the 90s and said to “turn on, boot up, and jack in.”

That phrase remains in obscurity.

His life took on a semi-religious, albeit unorthodox, tone. yet in 1992 he said that he’d always considered himself a pagan.

Leary died on may 31, 1996 from prostate cancer.

Timothy Francis Leary
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October 22 Peace Love Art Activism

October 22 Peace Love Art Activism

Feminism & Voting Rights

October 22 Peace Love Art Activism

October 22, 1917: Alice Paul sentenced to seven months in jail in the Occoquan Workhouse, located in Virginia. [NYT article] (see Nov 5, 1917)

October 22 Peace Love Art Activism

BLACK HISTORY

Leon McAtee

October 22, 1946: Holmes County, Mississippi, court freed the five white men accused in the beating death of Leon McAtee. Though one of the five had confessed to his own involvement in the murder and implicated the other four men, none was convicted. Before the trial ended, Judge S.F. Davis acquitted Spencer Ellis and James Roberts, finding the evidence insufficient to prove their guilt. The all-white jury then deliberated for ten minutes before acquitting Jeff Dodd Sr., Jeff Dodd Jr., and Dixie Roberts.

Leon McAtee was a tenant on Jeff Dodd Sr.’s farm who working a small plot of land for very little pay. When Mr. Dodd’s saddle went missing, he suspected Mr. McAtee of stealing it and had the black man arrested. On July 22, 1946, Mr. Dodd withdrew the charges and police released Mr. McAtee into Mr. Dodd’s custody. Mr. Dodd then called Dixie Roberts and together they took Mr. McAtee back to Mr. Dodd’s home, where Jeff Dodd Jr., James Roberts, and Spencer Ellis awaited them.

Inside the home, all five men beat Mr. McAtee and whipped him with a three-quarter-inch rope. The men then drove the badly beaten man to his home and presented him to his wife, who later reported that her husband was dazed and muttering about a saddle. The men then drove away with Mr. McAtee in their truck, and Mrs. McAtee fled with her children. Her husband was found dead in a bayou two days later. Soon after, his two young stepsons confessed to stealing the saddle. (see Nov 5)

John Earl Reese

October 22 Peace Love Activism

October 22, 1955: John Earl Reese was in a Mayflower, Texas, café when white men fired nine shots through the window, killing him and injuring his cousins. The men were attempting to terrorize African Americans into giving up plans for a new school. Local authorities were reluctant to investigate the shooting, with one sheriff insisting the culprit could be found in the nearby black community.

The following year the Texas Rangers took over the case and arrested two white men after one admitted they had fired nine bullets into the cafe from their speeding car. Both men acknowledged being angry about a new school being built in Mayflower, a mostly black community.

The men were found guilty of “murder without malice” and received five-year prison sentences that were immediately suspended. Neither spent a day in jail. Perry Dean Ross and Joseph Reagan Simpson were both convicted of the crime, but never spend a day behind bars because the judge suspended their five-year sentences. A historical marker in town now honors Reese. (see Nov 7)

School Desegregation

October 22 Peace Love Activism

October 22, 1963: many Chicago organizations that were part of the Coordinating Council of Community Organizations (CCCO) staged a school boycott.  250,000 students did not attend school, and at least 20,000 marched on the streets of Chicago. The march was one of the largest and most overlooked civil rights actions of the 1960’s took place in Chicago. (BH, see Nov 1; SD, see April 7, 1964)

March to MontgomeryOctober 22 Peace Love Art Activism

October 22, 1965: a jury took less than two hours to acquit Collie Wilkins in Viola Liuzzo’s slaying. [NYT article] (BH, see Nov 4; March, see Nov 30; see Liuzzo for expanded chronology)

 October 22 Peace Love Art Activism

INDEPENDENCE DAY

October 22, 1953: Laos independent from France. (see Nov 9)

 October 22 Peace Love Art Activism

Nuclear/Chemical News

Atomic testing

October 22, 1962: Soviet Union detonated 8.2 megaton above ground nuclear bomb. (CW, see Oct 22; NN, see Oct 30)

Security lapse

October 22, 2013: Air Force officials said officers entrusted with the launch keys to long-range nuclear missiles were caught twice during 2013 leaving open a blast door that is intended to help prevent a terrorist or other intruder from entering their underground command post. (see Nov 24)

 October 22 Peace Love Art Activism

The Cold War

October 22, 1962: President Kennedy announced the existence of Soviet missiles in Cuba and ordered a naval blockade (see January 3, 1966). The Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously agreed that a full-scale attack and invasion was the only solution. (see Oct 23)

 October 22 Peace Love Art Activism

Vietnam

JFK & the NYT

October 22, 1963: President John F. Kennedy was unhappy with stories in the New York Times by reporter David Halberstam, which indicated that American efforts to support the South Vietnamese government against the Viet Cong (aka, National Liberation Front) were failing. Kennedy tried to get the Times publisher to transfer Halberstam out of Vietnam on this day, but the Times refused. (see Nov 1)

Nixon interferes w peace negotiations

October 22, 1968: President Johnson understood that Hanoi was willing to negotiate a peace if bombing stopped. LBJ was ready to do so. Candidate Nixon, fearing candidate Hubert Humphrey’s gain on him in the polls, used Anna Cahan Chennault to act as his (Nixon’s) secret liason with the South Vietnamese regime. She encouraged South Vietnamese ambassador Bui Diem and President Tieu: Stay out of the Paris talks. LBJ is going to settle at their expense.

On this date, Nixon wrote to his closest aide, HR Haldeman, “Keep Anna Chennault working on SVN. “Any other way to monkey wrench it.”(Vietnam, see Oct 27; Nixon, see Oct 28)

Peace negotiations

October 22, 1972: Kissinger met with President Thieu. Hanoi said that both the United States and North Vietnam had agreed to the text of the agreement and the schedule. (see Oct 23)

 October 22 Peace Love Art Activism

Environmental Issues

Highway Beautification Act

October 22, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Highway Beautification Act, which attempted to limit billboards and other forms of outdoor advertising, as well as with junkyards and other unsightly roadside messes, along America’s interstate highways. The act also encouraged “scenic enhancement” by funding local efforts to clean up and landscape the green spaces on either side of the roadways. “This bill will enrich our spirits and restore a small measure of our national greatness,” Johnson said at the bill’s signing ceremony. “Beauty belongs to all the people. And so long as I am President, what has been divinely given to nature will not be taken recklessly away by man.”

Global Climate Change

October 22, 2017: the day before the event was scheduled to occur, the Environmental Protection Agency canceled the speaking appearance of three agency scientists who were scheduled to discuss climate change at a conference in Rhode Island.

John Konkus, an E.P.A. spokesman and a former Trump campaign operative in Florida, confirmed that agency scientists would not speak at the State of the Narragansett Bay and Watershed program in Providence.

Scientists involved in the program said that much of the discussion at the event would center on climate change. Many said they were surprised by the E.P.A.’s last-minute cancellation, particularly since the agency helped to fund the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, which was hosting the conference. The scientists who have been barred from speaking contributed substantial material to a 400-page report. (see Nov 16)

 October 22 Peace Love Art Activism

October 22 Music et al

Supremes

 October 22 Peace Love Art Activism

October 22 – November 4, 1966: The Supremes’ Supremes A’ Go-Go is the Billboard #1 album.

“The Beatles are now bigger than The Beatles”

October 22, 1996: Beatles publicist Geoff Baker announced that “The Beatles are now bigger than The Beatles”. His statement was based upon the fact that the year 1996 was expected to be the biggest year for album sales ever for The Beatles. Thus far in 1996, The Beatles had sold 6,000,000 albums from their back catalog and a combined total of 13,000,000 copies of “The Beatles Anthology 1” and “The Beatles Anthology 2”. With the release of “The Beatles Anthology 3” only a week away, it was anticipated that total Beatles album sales for 1996 would exceed 20 million. Somewhat surprisingly, studies showed that 41 percent of those sales were to teenagers who were not even born yet when The Beatles officially called it quits in 1970. (see March 11, 1997)

 October 22 Peace Love Art Activism

LGBTQ

October 22 Peace Love Activism

October 22, 1975: Air Force Sergeant Leonard Matlovich, a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, was given a “general” discharge by the air force after publicly declaring his homosexuality. Matlovich, who appeared in his air force uniform on the cover of Time magazine above the headline “I AM A HOMOSEXUAL,” was challenging the ban against homosexuals in the U.S. military. [NYT pdf](LGBTQ, see September 16, 1977; Matlovich, see December 7, 1978)

 October 22 Peace Love Art Activism

US Labor History

October 22, 1981: the federal government de-certified  the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization for its strike in August. (see July 8, 1982)

 October 22 Peace Love Art Activism

Japanese Internment Camps

 October 22 Peace Love Art Activism

October 22, 1999: groundbreaking on construction of a national memorial to both Japanese-American soldiers and those sent to internment camps takes place in Washington, D.C. with President Clinton in attendance. [NYT article(see February 2, 2000) 

 October 22 Peace Love Art Activism

Native Americans

October 22, 2012: Russell C Means died at age 72. (see June 25, 2013)

 October 22 Peace Love Art Activism

ADA

October 22, 2012: the morning after the final presidential debate, outspoken conservative commentator Ann Coulter sent out the following tweet: I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.

John Franklin Stephens, a Special Olympics athlete born with Down’s Syndrome, published the following open letter on the Special Olympics blog:

Dear Ann Coulter,

                Come on Ms. Coulter, you aren’t dumb and you aren’t shallow. So why are you continually using a word like the R-word as an insult?

                I’m a 30 year old man with Down syndrome who has struggled with the public’s perception that an intellectual disability means that I am dumb and shallow. I am not either of those things, but I do process information more slowly than the rest of you. In fact it has taken me all day to figure out how to respond to your use of the R-word last night.

                I thought first of asking whether you meant to describe the President as someone who was bullied as a child by people like you, but rose above it to find a way to succeed in life as many of my fellow Special Olympians have.

                Then I wondered if you meant to describe him as someone who has to struggle to be thoughtful about everything he says, as everyone else races from one snarkey sound bite to the next.

                Finally, I wondered if you meant to degrade him as someone who is likely to receive bad health care, live in low grade housing with very little income and still manages to see life as a wonderful gift.

                Because, Ms. Coulter, that is who we are – and much, much more.

                After I saw your tweet, I realized you just wanted to belittle the President by linking him to people like me. You assumed that people would understand and accept that being linked to someone like me is an insult and you assumed you could get away with it and still appear on TV.

                I have to wonder if you considered other hateful words but recoiled from the backlash.

                Well, Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor.

                No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much.

                Come join us someday at Special Olympics. See if you can walk away with your heart unchanged.

 A friend you haven’t made yet, John Franklin Stephens

Global Messenger

Special Olympics Virginia

 (next ADA, see November 27)

Marijuana

October 22, 2013: according to a Gallop poll conducted occasionally since 1969,  for the first time, 58% of Americans said that marijuana should be legalized. 12% of Americans thought that in 1969. (see Nov 5)

 October 22 Peace Love Art Activism

Iraq War II

 October 22 Peace Love Art Activism

October 22, 2014:  (from the NYT) four former Blackwater Worldwide security guards were convicted and immediately jailed for their roles in a deadly 2007 shooting in Baghdad’s Nisour Square that marked a bloody nadir in America’s war in Iraq.

A jury in Federal District Court found that the deaths of 17 Iraqis in the shooting, which began when a convoy of the guards suddenly began firing in a crowded intersection, was not a battlefield tragedy, but the result of a criminal act.

The convictions on murder, manslaughter and weapons charges represented a legal and diplomatic victory for the United States government, which had urged Iraqis to put their faith in the American court system. That faith was tested repeatedly over seven years as the investigation had repeated setbacks, leaving Iraqis deeply suspicious that anyone would be held responsible for the deaths.  [NYT article](Iraq, see March 20, 2015; Blackwater, see April 13, 2015)

 October 22 Peace Love Art Activism
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Mountain Leslie Weinstein West

Mountain Leslie Weinstein West

Happy birthday

Mountain Leslie Weinstein West

born October 22, 1945

Mountain, “Theme for an Imaginary Western”

Forest Hills High School

What do the four original members of the Ramones (Johnny, Dee Dee, Tommy and Joey), Burt Bacharach, Dick Stockton, Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Bob Keeshan, aka Captain Kangaroo, Jerry Springer and Peter Parker all have in common with Leslie West?

Except Peter Parker, aka Spiderman, they all actually attended Forest Hills High School in Queens, NYC.

Mountain Leslie Weinstein West

Leslie Weinstein

Leslie Weinstein became Leslie West after his parents divorced, but talent and luck (always a bit of luck), made Leslie West a household name among rock fans in the late 60s.

While Greenwich Village was pumping out folk musician after folk musician into the 1960’s cultural revolution, West though nearby geographically was light years artistically on “distant” Long Island, NY.

Leslie West was in the Vagrants and the band had minor success. Felix Pappalardi produced some of their recordings. Pappalardi produced and played on West’s first album, called Mountain (1969). It was from that album’s name that, in 1969, they formed Mountain.

Pappalardi had also produced Cream and some compared Mountain’s sound to theirs.  Steve Knight (keyboards) and N.D. Smart (drums) were the other two original members.

Mountain Leslie Weinstein West

Woodstock Music and Art Fair

The band appeared at Woodstock on Saturday night. Their well-received set was neither on the movie soundtrack nor the first movie, but the strength of their sound made West and the band favorites especially among the FM crowd.

Following Woodstock, the band released it’s first album,  Climbing! (February 1970). Nantucket Sleighride followed in January 1971, and Flowers of Evil in November 1971.

In 1972 Pappalardi left the band to do more productions and West, Jack Bruce and Corky Laing (had replaced ND Smart on drums) formed West, Bruce, and Lang.

Over the decades versions of Mountain have formed and re-formed, always with West at the center.

Mountain Leslie Weinstein West

Leslie West

Substance abuse and diabetes have plagued West, but have not kept him away from music very long. He lost the bottom half of his right leg to diabetes in 2011.

He told Billboard afterwards, ““I cried a couple fuckin’ times. I look down — ‘Where is it?!’ You still feel the nerves and stuff like that. I had to make a decision — lose my leg or lose my life. What are you gonna do?  But I’ll tell you, it’s a good thing it wasn’t one of my arms. Then I’d be really fucked.” [insert gallows humor comment here]

On August 15, 2009 he married Jenni Maurer on stage after Mountain’s performance at the Woodstock 40th anniversary concert at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, located on the site of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Note Mr Levon Helm on the far left!

Mountain Leslie Weinstein West

 

In 2015, Rolling Stone magazine rated West as 65/100 among the greatest guitar players. The blurb said in part that, “ On songs like the 1970 hit “Mississippi Queen,” West played roughened blues lines with deceiving facility and an R&B flair, through a black forest of stressed-amp distortion. “

Mountain Leslie Weinstein West
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