Thursday, November 20, 2014

Stranger In a Strange Land: The Curious Times of Ronald Stark Part II

Welcome to the second installment in my examination of the life and times of enigmatic LSD baron Ronald Hadley Stark. As has been noted before, but it bares mentioning again, I'm deeply indebted to Skilluminati/Brainsturbator for some of the resources used in this series and the reader is advised to check out that site's excellent account of Stark. But moving along.

With the first installment of this series I briefly broke down Stark's early years, with a special emphasis on his alleged ties to Bellevue Medical Hospital and his claims that several patent he sold had come from Nazi Germany via his father. As I wrapped up with that installment I noted his initial meeting with the legendary "hippie mafia" known as the Brotherhood of Eternal Love.

members of the Brotherhood
There it was also noted that Stark proclaimed himself a kind of revolutionary. As several sources have noted, Stark had a very specific reference point for his idea of revolution: Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. Any sci-fi fan or libertarian worth their salt is well aware of this work, but given the influence it had on Stark it is was worth considering in depth:
"One of Stark's favorite books was Robert Heinlein's sci-fi classic of 1965, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. He saw it is a revolutionary 'handbook,' every bit as inspirational as the writings of Che Guevera. Heinlein's novel, a hard-boiled political fairytale set in the year 2075, is about a penal colony on the moon. The 3 million inhabitants – who are housed in huge domes containing artificial atmospheres – are either Earth deportees or their descendants. They cannot return because once their bodies adept to the moon's gravity they can never readapt to the gravity of the Earth (though on the plus side they live longer). The lunar prison is brutally administered by a United Nations-appointed governor, who the revolutionaries try to overthrow. One of them, a character called 'the Prof' explains:
"'... revolutions are not won by enlisting the masses. Revolution is a science for the few who are competent to practice it. It depends on correct organization and, above all, on communications.'
"The conspiracy starts with three people (more than three 'can't agree on where to have dinner' he says). These three in turn recruit two other people to form three new cells. This recruitment process continues until a large network of cells is built up. The advantage of the structure is that if cell members do not know each other's sub-cells, then they cannot give them away if captured. The drawback is that if a single cadre is arrested and cannot resist interrogation, then the enemy can arrest the half-a-dozen comrades he or she knows and thus reach the sub-cells. Thus, it becomes possible for the authorities to break the revolutionaries' chain of command and communication.
"A more sophisticated system discussed in Heinlein's book is a pyramid-of pyramids set-up – a sort of 'Internet' without the computers:
"'Where vertices are in common, each bloke knows one in an adjoining cell... Communications never break down because they run sideways as well as up and down. Something like a neural net.'
"Damage can be stemmed and repair because the cell member who discovers a breach in the network can pass warnings without having to know who receives the message.
"The notion of revolutionary organisation as an imitation of a 'natural' and 'organic' hierarchy is not new. Historically, August Blanqui, the most accomplished revolutionary conspirator in 19th-century France, had very similar ideas about revolutionary organisation. In Heinlein's futuristic version, however, the notion is given a neat twist: the conspiracy is helped by a miraculous super-computer, which is so powerful and complex that it 'wakes up' and becomes 'self-conscious'. The computer develops a sense of 'humour' about the 'stupidity' of the colony administrators, plus a 'rational will' to overthrow them.
"The conspirators use the computer to set up front companies and fraudulently appropriated funds on the terrestrial stock exchanges. They then use the money to set up secret facilities for development of revolutionary war technology. In this scenario, then, Big Brother's Brain, as scientific rationality, can be detached from ruling class control and harnessed to the revolution.
"As a 'rational anarchist' the Prof believes that the concept of the State has no existence except as 'physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals'. This implies that collaboration with the state is justifiable as a disguise within the strategy of undermining it from the inside. The revolutionary leader practices systematic deception of everyone apart from those who are required to be 'in the know' for particular functions.
"Stark's keen interest in these ideas is perhaps a pointer to his modus operandi..."
(Acid: A New Secret History of LSD, David Black, pgs. 149-151)

Over the course of his "career," Stark would have his fingers in a variety of pies spread out across the globe with the various regional players being scarcely aware of one another's existence. Stark was many things to many different people as we shall explore over the course of this series. It would seem that the organization of his various ventures were partly inspired by some of the ideas presented in Moon.

Before leaving Heinlein, it worth addressing in brief his curious life. Heinlein was a sixth generation German-American who hailed from a family deeply committed to the US Armed Forces: a family tradition held that Heinleins had fought in every American war since the Revolution. Heinlein's brother, Lawrence, was a career military man who served in the US Army, Air Force and Missouri National Guard, where he attained the rank of major general. Heinlein himself would serve in the Navy during his early days before ending up in California. Of this time frame, David McGowan writes:
"Another famous resident of Laurel Canyon was science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein, who resided at 8775 Lookout Mountain Avenue. Like so many other characters in this story, Heinlein was a graduate of the US Naval Academy at Annapolis and he had served as a naval officer. After that, he embarked on a successful writing career. And despite the fact that he was, by any objective measure, a rabid right-winger, his work was warmly embraced by the flower-power generation...
"Heinlein's best-known work is the novel Stranger in a Strange Land, which many in the Laurel Canyon scene found to be hugely influential. Ed Sanders has written, in The Family, that the book 'helped provide a theoretical basis for Manson's Family.' Charlie frequently used Strange Land terminology when addressing his flock, and he named his first Family-born son Valentine Michael Manson in honor of the book's lead character.
"David Crosby was a big Heinlein fan as well. In his autobiography, he references Heinlein on more than one occasion, and proclaims that, 'In a society where people can go armed, it makes everybody a little more polite, as Robert Heinlein says in his books.' Frank Zappa was also a member of the Robert Heinlein fan club. Barry Miles notes in his biography of the rock icon that his home contained 'a copy of Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince and other essential sixties reading, including Robert Heinlein's sci-fi classic, Stranger in a Strange Land, from which Zappa borrowed the word "discorporate" for [the song] Absolutely Free.'"
(Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon, David McGowan, pgs. 58-59)
As indicated above, Heinlein's work would have an enormous influence on the 60s counterculture despite the rather contemptuous attitude Heinlein had towards such things. After flirting with progressive politics during the 1930s, Heinlein became a far right reactionary at the onset of the Cold War. Some of his later works, most notably Starship Troopers, romanticized fascist military dictatorships and in general Heinlein's work fanatically glorified militarism. Heinlein was a staunch supporter of the McCarthy hearings, Vietnam, and the nuclear arms race.

On the other hand, his works works were frequently hostile to Christianity and organized religion in general. Wile Heinlein is commonly depicted as an early proponent of "free love," his version went to extremes the counterculture largely avoided: incest and even pedophilia are gloried in many of Heinlein's later works, especially the Lazarus Long books that began with 1973's Time Enough For Love. Prior to the 1970s, however, Heinlein showed some restraint and Stranger in a Strange Land would have a especially profound effect on the counterculture and other, more unsavory, elements.
"Robert E. Heinlein was another sci-fi giant to emerge from the pages of Astounding. His Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), in which a Martian, Michael Valentine Smith, arrives on Earth and inaugurates a free-love cult, is rife with themes, ideas and philosophies that come right out of the pages of Crowley's writing, especially The Book of the Law. The practice of water sharing, that runs throughout the book, is taken from Crowley's Gnostic Mass. Other occult references abound: the psychic Madame Alexandria Vesant seems a combination of Madame Blavatsky and Annie Besant, and the catchphrase 'Thou art God' is like the ancient Hindu Tat twam asi, 'That thou art,' a formula of the unity of Atman and Brahma which Hess employs in Steppenwolf
"Like Tolkien and Lord of the Rings, Heinlein and Stranger in a Strange Land would achieve cult status by the mid-sixties. Also like Tolkien, Heinlein would contribute a word to the language. 'Grok,' Heinlein's term for an immediate, intuitive grasp of a person or situation, soon became a counterculture buzzword; at one point Heinlein was asked to lead a seminar at Big Sur's Esalen Institute, sharing the bill with Alan Watts. Ironically, a book that became a kind of Bible among the leftist love-and-peace generation was written by an author with right-wing political sympathies, and exposed a kind of mystical elitism, with a superhuman leader who had no qualms about 'discorporating' individuals who interfered with his plans.
"Stranger in a Strange Land acquired a darker cachet when it became known that, along with Siddhartha, it was one of the few books, it was one of the few books Charles Manson allowed the members of his Family to read. In 1970, Heinlein even received a fan letter from one of the Family, sent from a jail in Independence, California. The link between the book and Manson was so strong that Heinlein turned down an interview with Playboy because Hugh Hefner wanted to ask questions about its influence on the Family.
"That Heinlein was aware of the links between his own libertarian philosophy and that of Crowley is clear from a letter sent to a group of fans who asked permission to use material in Stranger in a Strange Land at their meetings. Heinlein refused – wisely shy of associating his name with any cult – and closes his letter saying that 'Do what thou wilt' may indeed be the 'whole of the law', perhaps even 'a law of nature', but that it was a more complicated idea than most people supposed. Heinlein's book, however, was the inspiration for at least one cult. In the late sixties, a group of students at Westminster College, Missouri, founded a weather brother fraternity, and later established the Church of All Worlds, what they described as a 'Neo-Pagan Earth Religion'."
(Turn Off Your Mind, Gary Lachman, pgs. 223-224)

The Church of All Worlds still exists to this day, but largely as a paper organization. It has struggled along for years with few members and even less funding. In the 1960s, however, Stranger influenced a variety of different movements and sects, including the Manson Family.

There is no doubt that Heinlein was aware of Crowley's writings by this date and considerably earlier. During the 1940s, when Heinlein was living in the infamous Laurel Canyon, he made the acquaintance of Jack Parsons, the legendary rocket scientist who invented the jet fuel used for years by modern space crafts and aided in the founding of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It is not Parsons' scientific achievements, however, that he is most widely remembered for nowadays. What is endlessly analyzed is his infamous occult activities that involved a relationship with Crowley and in time the US branch of the Thelemite Ordo Templi Orientis. It was against this back drop that Parsons struck up his little acknowledged friendship with Heinlein.
"As the worlds of science and science fiction continued to coalesce, so Parsons himself was spending more time in the company of professional science fiction writers. He had become a regular guest of the Manana Literary Society, a group of authors who met at the Laurel Canyon home of the writer Robert Heinlein. Lead and intelligent, with a pencil-thin mustache and a penchant for ascots, Heinlein was swiftly winning fame as the preeminent writer in science fiction. When Parsons first met him in 1942, he was thirty-five years old, having begun his career late as a science fiction writer. He had spent some time in the navy before being invalidated out of the service, and he had gone on to a brief career in politics, which culminated in a run for the California State Assembly as a member of Upton Sinclair's left-wing EPIC (End Poverty in California) movement. Beaten by the Republican incumbent, he turned to the pupls for quick money and now, along with Isaac Asimov and L. Sprague de Camp, was rewriting the rules of the traditional science fiction story, crafting realistic characters and beautifully wrought depictions of the future. His stories of lone geniuses as proficient with their fists as with their slide rules proved remarkably popular in the pages of the pulps, and his fame would only increase in the post-war years when he published such best-selling novels as Starship Troopers and Stranger in a Strange Land.
"Heinlein met Parsons at a meeting of the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society. As one of the earliest members of the American Interplanetary Society, the first rocket society in America, he was impressed by the freethinking rocket scientist and invited him to the Manana society, so named 'for all the stories that would be written tomorrow.' Here some of the finest science fiction pulp writers of the time met to drink cheap sherry and talk over new stories.
"Those present included William White, also known by the name Anthony Boucher and a hundred other pseudonyms, whose murder mystery stories were infused with Catholic iconography. Cleve Cartmill, a beat reporter crippled from polio, whose atomic bomb story would so alarm the Manhattan Project, had already met Parsons and visited the OTO on Winona Boulevard. Jack Williamson, who also knew Parsons, could be found in a corner of the room, mulling over stories that mixed parallel time streams with Amazonian dominatrices from the future. Visiting guess from outside Los Angeles would also appear at the society's meetings: L. Ron Hubbard, who could type 2,000 words an hour without revision and who seemed like a character in some of his dizzying tales of psychic powers and strong-jawed supermen; the film director Fritz Lang, whose early German pictures Die Drau im Monde and Metropolis had been two of the earliest science fiction films; and Lang's fellow German ex-patriot Willy Ley, who was now doing his best to popularize the idea of space travel through his factual science articles in the pulps Astounding Science Fiction and Amazing Stories. Into this eclectic group came Parsons, with his talk of rocketry and magick."
(Strange Angel, George Pendle, pgs. 228-230)
The Manana Society likely spurred the first meeting between Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard, himself a former Naval officer and the future founder of the Church of Scientology. Hubbard, who would later claim that he befriended Parsons as part of an operation for the Office of Naval Intelligence, performed a bizarre ritual with Parsons known as the Babalon Working that has been the center of much speculation over the years. Hubbard would also scam Parsons out of a considerable amount of money and run off with the rocket scientist's girlfriend.

It seems clear that Heinlein played a key role in introducing Parsons to Hubbard. After Hubbard moved into Parsons' abode, Heinlein would occasionally drop by to fence with his fellow sword enthusiasts. Heinlein also introduced Parsons to the physicist and engineer Robert Cornog, whom he would later dedicate Stranger in a Strange Land to. Cornog would play a key role in developing the atomic bomb while working on the Manhattan Project and would continue to develop missile system throughout the rest of his life. For a time he would also live with Parsons.

A few other interesting points that should be made concerning Heinlein before returning to our regularly scheduled programming: As noted above, Heinlein was living in the notorious Laurel Canyon by the early 1940s. This was roughly at the same time the bizarre facility known as Lookout Mountain Laboratory became operational there (as noted above, Heinlein reportedly lived on Lookout Mountain Avenue during this time frame, indicating he was probably very close to he facility). "Incidentally," this was also when Heinlein decided to launch what would become a highly prolific writing career. A bit about Lookout Mountain:
"What would become known as Lookout Mountain Laboratory was originally envisioned as a fortified air defense center. Built in 1941 and nestled in two-and-a-half secluded acres off what is now Wonderland Park Avenue, the installation was hidden from view and surrounded by an electrified fence. By 1947, the facility featured a fully operational movie studio. In fact, it is claimed that it was the world's only completely self-contained movie studio. With 100,000 square feet of floor space, the covert studio included sound stages, screening rooms, film processing labs, editing facilities, an animation department, and seventeen climate-controlled film vaults. It also had a helicopter pad and a bomb shelter.
"Over its lifetime, the studio produced some 19,000 classified motion pictures – more than all the Hollywood studios combined (which I guess makes little canyon the real 'motion picture capital of the world'). Officially, the facility was run by the US Air Force and did nothing more nefarious than process AEC footage of atomic and nuclear bomb tests. The studio, however, was clearly equipped to do far more than just process film. There are indications that Lookout Mountain Laboratory had an advanced research and development department that was on the cutting edge of new film technologies. Such technological advances as 3-D effects were apparently first developed at the Laurel Canyon site. And Hollywood luminaries like John Ford, Jimmy Stewart, Howard Hawks, Ronald Reagan, Bing Crosby, Walt Disney, Hedda Hopper and Marilyn Monroe were given clearance to work at the facility on undisclosed project. There is no indication that any of them ever spoke of their work at the clandestine studio."
(Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon, David McGowan, pgs. 55-56)

During World War II Heinlein, along with Issac Asimov and L. Sprague de Camp, was dispatched to work at the research laboratory at the Philadelphia Naval Yard. While there were rumors that these prominent science fiction writers were part of a think tank pondering super weapons, the writers have long insisted that their work consisted of little more than investigating hydraulic valves and such like. Its interesting to note, however, that Heinlein, Asimov and de Camp seem to have been stationed at the Philadelphia Naval Yard at roughly the same time the Philadelphia Experiment was taking place. The Philadelphia Experiment is almost surely a hoax, however.

the Philadelphia Naval Yard
Heinlein met his future wife,Virginia Gerstenfeld, during this time. Many of Heinlein's female characters would be based upon her and she reportedly had an enormous influence on his later conservative political leanings.

Towards the end of his life Heinlein would become involved with an organization known as Citizens Advisory Council on National Space Policy. This committee, which met at science fiction writer Larry Niven's house, was one of several lobby groups for the Strategic Defense Initiative, more commonly referred to as "Star Wars." Reportedly Heinlein contributed to Ronald Reagan's 1983 "Star Wars" speech through this organization.

The council also included legendary astronaut and Freemason Buzz Aldrin and General Daniel O. Graham, who served as deputy director of the CIA and director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. After departing the DIA in 1976 Graham became involved with various far right organization with deep ties to the US intelligence community such as the World Anti-Communist League and the American Security Council. Much more information on Graham and these organizations can be found here and here.

Heinlein dedicated one of his Lazarus Long books, The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, to this group. But moving along.

Heinlein and his rather curious associations has of course been rather sparingly addressed by many conspiracy theorists. This is hardly surprising considering how much The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is revered in libertarian and paramilitary circles in the United States. While the nefarious influence Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land has gotten far more attention, its likely Moon has had an even more devastating influence. While the former work may have partially inspired the Manson Family, Moon seems to have been at the heart of Stark's continent spanning network.

Moon... is a work revered by the counterculture and libertarian circles despite the author's unabashed worship of military dictatorships (to say nothing of his likely ties to the US intelligence community). I suppose this is rather fitting considering the influence Stranger had on the Family, a cult that more closely resembled a paramilitary Christian Identity sect than the common perception of hippies (as I've noted before here) but is none the less held up as the "dark side" of the 1960s counterculture. And then there is Stark, a self proclaimed acidified revolutionary who none the less would forge curious ties with at least one fascist cult in Italy. But more on that later.

Let us now finally return to Stark in earnest. In the prior installment I noted Stark's initial meeting with the Brotherhood of Eternal Love in 1969 but I did not mention his earlier ventures into the emerging 1960s counterculture. At this point these encounters should be noted before moving forward. Let us start with his time in France:
"... On the streets during the Paris riots in May 1969 he bumped into a fellow American expatriate. The casual meeting was to have great importance. The two got talking about drugs and the other American, a student at Cambridge, England, mentioned that a drug expert and writer had settled in the university town. Stark tucked the name away for future reference..."
(The Brotherhood of Eternal Love, Stewart Tendler & David May, pg. 140)
We'll get to this so-called "drug expert" in a little bit, so do keep him in mind. For the time being it should be noted that the above-mentioned Paris riots took place in 1968, and not 1969. This event, commonly referred to as "May of '68" or simply "May 68", was one of the most turbulent and striking events of the emerging 60s counterculture. Of it, the legendary rock critic Greil Marcus remarked:
"... when apparently trivial disruptions on a university campus in the Paris suburbs had begun a chain reaction of refusal – when first students, then factory workers, then clerks, professors, nurses, doctors, athletes, bus drivers, and artist refused to work, took to the streets, threw up barricades and fought off the police, or turned back upon their workplaces, occupied them, fought off their unions, and transformed their workplaces into laboratories of debating and critique, when the walls of Paris bled with unusual slogans – when ten million people brought a signal version of modern society to a standstill. 'In the confusion and tumult of the May revolt,' Bernard E Brown wrote in Protest in Paris, his unique academic account of May 68, 'the slogans and shouts of the students were considered expressions of mass spontaneity and individual ingenuity. Only afterwards was it evident that the slogans were fragments of a consistent and seductive ideology that had virtually all appeared in situationist tracts and publications... Mainly through their agency there welled up in the May revolt an immense force of protest against the modern world and all its works, blending passion, mystery, and the primeval.' 'The explosion,' said President Charles de Gaulle in the June speech with which he recapture power, 'was provoked by a few groups in revolt against modern society, against consumer society, against technological society, whether communist in the East or capitalist in the West – groups, moreover, which do not know what they would put in its place, but which delight in negation.' 'The Beginning of an Epoch,' proclaimed the lead article in the twelfth and last number of the journal Internationale situationniste in 1969. 'The death rattle of the historical irrelevants,' said Zbigniew Brzezinski."
(Lipstick Traces, Greil Marcus, pgs. 31-32)
some of the slogans of May 68
Earlier Marcus noted the ideological underpinnings of May 68:
"... a critique of modern society once set out by a small group of Paris-based intellectuals. First organized in 1952 as the Lettrist International, and refounded in 1957 at a conference of European avant-garde artists as the Situationist International, the group gained its greatest notoriety during the French revolt of May 1968, when the premises of its critique were distilled into crudely poetic slogans and spray-painted across the walls of Paris, after which the critique was given up to history and the group disappeared. The group looked back to the surrealist of the 1920s, the dadaists who made their names during and just after the First World War, the young Karl Marx, Saint-Just, various medieval heretics, and the Knights of the Round Table."
(Lipstick Traces, Greil Marcus, pg. 18)
a publication of the Situationist International
A full scale discussion of the Situationists is vastly beyond the scope of this series, but suffice to say they are one of the least addressed and yet most effective of the various fringe counterculture sects that developed during the 1960s. And here was Stark during May 1968 making the scene in Paris during the SI's greatest triumph. A year later Stark would once again find himself within the ranks of Situationists, this time in London.

SI member Charles Radcliffe became involved with an underground magazine called Friends, later renamed Frendz, that ran from 1969 till 1972. Besides Radcliffe, several others involved with the magazine had also been influenced by the Situationists and may even have been directly involved with them. In some accounts this politically radical magazine received a curious source of funding: Ronald Stark.
"Stark had first met the group producing Frendz magazine in 1969, weeks before he introduced himself to the Brotherhood of Eternal Love in California. Developments around the magazine from 1969 to 71 show, Abrams believes, that something fishy was going on:
"'Dick Pontain take Stark off to Frendz magazine. It appears that Stark takes over the funding – there's an overpaid editor, a staff of 17, a fleet of hire cars and they never sold more than 5,000 copies an issue. Now you have this magazine, acting as spokesman for the Angry Brigade, and involved with Jim McCann, who is close to the IRA. Enter, at the beginning of 1971, Howard Marks, who's doing some dope business with Alan Marcuson and Charles Radcliffe of Frendz magazine.'"
(Acid: A New Secret History of LSD, David Black, pg. 98)

What this means is essentially that this magazine, begun kids influenced by the Situationists, would develop ties with terror organizations (the IRA and the Angry Brigade) after Stark arrives on the scene and seemingly takes over the magazine's funding. And the one member directly tied to the Situationists, Charles Radcliffe, also becomes involved in trafficking hashish. His partner in this endeavor was the above-mentioned Howard Marks, a figure with a deep background in his own right:
 "According to Marks, it was nearly two years later, at the end of 1972, when Hamilton McMillan – an MI6 officer and an old chum from Balliol College, Oxford – recruited him as an agent to help in 'unspecified operations.' McMillan apparently thought that as a 'Balliol man, through and through,' Marks would be discreet and useful to Queen and Country."
(Acid: A New Secret History of LSD, David Black, pg. 98)
So, an associate of the magazine, and one involved in a drug smuggling ring with Radcliffe, was eventually recruited as a British intelligence asset. And guess what ties another member of Marks' network happened to have:
"At that time Marks was engaged in a number of smuggling operations. One was a deal with Ernie Coombes of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. They had an arrangement with various Middle and Near East diplomats and playboys to fly large loads of Afghani hash to America through Europe. Marks, Coombes, and another old Oxford University friend, Graham Plinston, developed a clever scam by setting up a front company to transport PA systems for British rock bands touring the United States. Afghan hash stuffed into speaker cabinets going into the US and replaced with marijuana for the return trip by Brotherhood contacts in the New York Mafia."
(Acid: A New Secret History of LSD, David Black, pg. 98)
So it would appear Starks' Brotherhood connections went into business with Howard Marks, a some time MI6 asset, after their partnership with Stark had been cemented. This was not the only questionable company the Brotherhood attracted after establishing ties with Stark.
"In speculating on Ron Stark's possible role as an 'anti counter-culture agent', Stewart Tendler and David May, authors of The Brotherhood of Eternal Love, note that Stark began working with the Brotherhood 'at just the time when they were involved with the Weathermen', but fail to come up with any direct link that the Weather Underground might have had with either Stark or the Brotherhood at that time (late summer 1969). However, as we have seen, Stark had already been flirting with 'armed struggle' politics in London in 1969. Even before he met the Brotherhood, when he was hanging out with the Frendz magazine collective whose ranks included associates of the Black Mask/Motherfuckers group in New York.
"It was in fact a year or so after Stark's arrival at Idylwild that the Brotherhood 'connected' with the Weather Underground for the purpose of springing Leary from prison in smuggling him and his wife Rosemary to Algeria as guests of the Black Panthers. In spring 1970 an Orange County judge had passed a ludicrous sentence of up to 22 years' imprisonment on Larry for petty marijuana offenses. As Leary's friends organized a defense campaign, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love paid the Weather Underground $25,000 to free him, a task made much easier by his transfer from Fulsom Prison to the minimum security establishment at San Luis Obispo...
"Given that Hoover's FBI had just denounced the Panthers and the Weather Underground as the most dangerous groups in America, the Leary escape – which was reportedly masterminded by his lawyer, Michael Kennedy – was a brilliant coup, which conjured Hoover's hyperbole into the spectre of a revolutionary coalition that in reality barely existed. However, when Leary appeared to buy the Weatherpeople's skyed-out politics and issued a statement from hiding arguing that 'To shoot a genocidal robot policeman in defense of life is sacred act,' he alienated many of his old friends, many of whom were pacifist..."
(Acid: A New Secret History of LSD, David Black, pgs. 116-117)
a wanted poster for various members of the Weather Underground
Thus, the Brotherhood had transformed from a proto-human potential sect into an idealist drug cartel and finally, after Stark came on board, began involved in the "armed struggle." Leary's escape and subsequent actions of course forever damaged his credibility. And much the same could be said for what the armed struggle did for the New Left in the 1960s. And here was Ronald Stark in the background just before the Frendz collective and the Brotherhood became involved in these elements. As I'm sure many of you are aware, there is a host of speculation concerning the Weather Underground's ties to the US intelligence community. Such a topic is far beyond the scope of this series, but when one considers the presence of men like Stark and Howard Marks in the midst of these groups, such a notion must be given consideration. But moving along.

By the early 1970s the heat was on the Brotherhood of Eternal Love.
"By this time a federal task force composed of thirteen agencies – including the FBI, CIA, BNDD, IRS, Customs, and the State Department – were gearing up for a major crackdown on the Brotherhood. Operation BEL, as the Brotherhood sting was called, scored its first major victory in August 1972, when narcotics agents arrested forty people in three different states. The predawn raids were ordered on the basis of twenty-nine secret indictments handed down by an Orange County grand jury. They marked the accumulation of a year-long investigation that netted a million and a half LSD tablets, two and a half tons of hashish, thirty gallons of hash oil, and $20,000 in cash. Cecil Hicks, the district attorney of Orange County, fingered Leary as 'the Godfather' of the largest drug smuggling network in the world and vowed to press for his extradition from Switzerland. 'Leary is responsible for destroying more lives than any other human being,' Hicks declared."
(Acid Dreams, Martin A. Lee & Bruce Shlain, pg. 271)
a wanted poster for the Brotherhood
In all, several hundred members of the Brotherhood were arrested. At least twenty members chose the fugitive route so as to avoid serving time. In virtually all cases the government relentlessly pursued criminal charges against these individuals, even years after the fact. As recently as 2010, a former member of the Brotherhood was arrested on nearly 40 year old charges. The most famous of these fugitives was of course Nick Sand, who jumped bail in 1976 and became a fugitive for nearly two decades. But he too eventually served time for the charges relating to his time with the Brotherhood.

As one might imagine, there was but one specific individual whom the government did not pursue their case against.
"... When the DEA were putting together a case against Stark in 1972, they had great difficulty in pinning down his personal details and were never able to get his FBI file from New York. Their reports in California and the details passed on to Europe only showed what Stark was not, not what he actually was.
"The silence was finally ended late in 1982. Stark was arrested in Holland on a charge involving 16 kilos of hashish. In the summer of 1983, he was released from custody and thrown out of Holland where he had claimed to be a Lebanese bound for New York. He was arrested on arrival in the United States on a passport violation and DEA agents began to reconstruct the original San Francisco LSD case against him. They found it impossible to do so after such a long time and Stark was released."
(The Brotherhood of  Eternal Love, Stewart Tendler & David May, pgs. 230-231)
Authorities seemingly had no problem reconstructing cases against lesser members of the Brotherhood, even decades after the fact. But when confronted with Ron Stark, the man who effectively ran the organization by the early 1970s and who would remain a player in international drug trafficking for years to come, they couldn't put together a case. And be assured, Stark's criminal activities by this point in time were legion, having left a paper trail in several countries. In the next installment we shall consider some of these things beginning with the LSD ring that replaced the Brotherhood and its links to Stark. Stay tuned.

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