Tim Leary was the great Con Man of the counter culture, and like great
con men, his success and his charm was based on his ability to determine
what his listener or listeners wanted to hear and then giving it to
them. When that failed, as it did on the one occasion that I met him, he
became totally lost and confused.
It was in Algeria in December of 1970 where, on the lam and with the
intervention of Eldridge Cleaver, he had been taken in as a guest of the
Black Panther Party International Section with the stipulation by the
Algerian government that he not do drugs, at least not publicly, to
which Leary initially agreed.
When I read in the International Herald Tribune that the BPP had offered
Tim Sanctuary, I thought it was a dumb idea because I had already become
convinced that Leary was nothing but a clever huckster. When I arrived,
Cleaver told me that I was mistaken and that he thought that Leary would
be the link between the drug culture and the revolutionary movement
which I thought was an unlikely outcome and told him so. Cleaver
responded by telling me that for a week, Leary had been interviewed by
an Algerian Marxist psychologist and had made some revolutionary
statements and that the following evening would be the final interview
and he asked if I would photograph the session. I agreed and went there
with two friends with whom I was traveling, one of whom it turned out,
shared a mutual friend with Leary.
Now whether or not this mutual friend was into psychedelics, my friend
was not, at least in the manner that Leary had been promoting them, but
the Old Con Man assumed that he was and I, as another Yankee, would be
appreciative of his views on inner space travel. And he couldn't have
been more mistaken, as he soon realized.
Rather than continuing his revolutionary theorizing, Leary began to
speak about the usual nonsense that he had been peddling back in
Babylon, and as he did so, seemingly unable to stop what he had started,
he realized something was wrong, very wrong. Not only was the Algerian
and his American translator very upset, but it became clear that neither
I or my friends were pleased with what he was saying. The tension in the
room became became so heavy you could almost see it. What you could see
was Tim sweating and, almost as if he was being forcibly interrogated,
he put an arm behind his chair as if someone was actually holding it there.
When he finally stopped, the psychologist, through the
translator--although she was hardly needed at the moment--raged at him
for wasting his time for so many evenings. I don't forget what my
friend or I said, but the next day's outing that we had planned with his
wife Rosemary, who had been reclining on a couch against the wall, was
not mentioned again,
Soon after I had left, some of Tim's Berkeley friends arrived and
brought him some acid which he proceeded to drop in a public place and
Cleaver appropriately put him under "house arrest."
For as many folks that Leary "saved" from Vietnam or anything else, I
suspect there were far more who, following his path, seriously messed
their heads up. I knew more the latter than the former. Here was this
jerk with his PhD and glib ability to con the easily conned, telling
young folks to "turn on, tune in, and drop out," while he only pretended
to do that, or didn't he charge money for his public appearances?
> Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2001 14:28:47 -0700
> From: radman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Subject: [sixties-l] Leary Smear FeedBack
> Leary Smear FeedBack
> Forwarded by Kenn Thomas (email@example.com)
> Dear Jeremy Bridges, thanks for doing the dirty job of history
> Interesting how history turned Reagan, who run the country into a
> ditch and had worth scandals than Clinton could ever dream of -- how
> Reagan now is the greatest Prez. we ever had. On the other hand Leary
> who while risking his own comfy professorial life in effect probably
> saved thousands of young men from death in Vietnam by making them
> think and leave for Canada or Europe.
> After the CIA decided not to kill him -- because of the
> unpleasantries of martyrdom I wasn't shocked that they tried to turn
> him into a snitch. When that happened my life's experiences told me
> that someone exiled for about two years then jailed for an other 4 or
> 5(?) isn't exactly well informed about current illegal business going
> on -- in fact often you're happy to get last month newspaper. And for
> the ever doubtful there is a book by John Bryan that gives you all
> the nasty details about Timothy's final escape, and he -- as Tim told
> me -- is a Leary-hater -- and still he could not find anybody who
> went to jail... What really bothers me are sentences like: " I
> realize, that in today's counterculture, we do not have the huge mega-
> stars (Like Abbie Hoffman) to help lead us." How about
> super/giant/mega/giga-stars to try to begin to start to help to lead
> us, lead us... oh my god we are without leadership... call the
> Germans...maybe they still have some cheap left-over-leaders.....
> O! the silliness -- why wasn't Tim behind George Bush the elder if he
> was such a Bush fan? So -- thank you for the dirty job of setting
> history straight which otherwise I might have felt to do.
> >From Graham K. Wilson
> Tim Leary was only one of my best friends I ever had! This Leary-as-
> Devil theorist was obviously never one of Tim's friends and never
> really even knew him except for the various warped media images he
> has obviously been very biased by. Tim was not only one of my best
> friends but also one of my only friends. I know he never did anything
> he didn't have a right to do to me. he was, and to me he still is, a
> bodhisattva! in fact we both are still bodhisattvas of the L.S.D.-
> 25/timetravel neurochemistry TRUTH, to me.
> Unlike anyone else he got me to look at my brain and IQ totally
> seriously and faithfully in myself. without him i do not believe i
> could dream of life with meaning and/or "the beyond"...he helped me
> weaken my death instinct of my suicidal behaviours...I swear, I might
> not still be alive if it weren't for him!
> I also noticed the Leary-as-Devil theorist didn't even mention Harry
> Browne, the libertarian candidate for President as if Nader were the
> only real hippie or drugee or "lefto" option.
> Complete inattention to detail seems to be the universal
> characteristic or trait of such "Leary-bashers"! to me they are not
> scientists but right or left wing nutso politicians or worse and not
> one of them enough of a scientist to be able to judge his scientific
> value or worth!
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