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Tag: Los Angeles Free Press (page 1 of 3)

James Garrison’s First Reports on the JFK Assassination



Who’s James Garrison… and why should you listen to him?

A New Orleans D.A., he came across a local connection to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  Eventually, as improbable as it may still seem now – and against much contemporary criticism then – he postulated that not only had that plan been hatched right there in his home town, but that it was authored by the CIA and involved the Dallas city government and its police department. And that fascism was a key component. Then he took it all to court.

Known by the name of a local that Garrison had arrested as a suspected participant, the Clay Shaw Trial put all of his gathered evidence on display, including the Zapruder film that Garrison wrested from Life magazine.  All in all, the trial was two years in the making.   The draw, at that point was, for the most part, the very same revelations that he makes in his speech printed in this Issue of the Los Angeles Free Press.  Particularly,  they were the magnitude of the other players and his very public challenge of the Warren Commission’s Report.

We (the Los Angeles Free Press) had been interested in this story early on – as you can see – presenting it without the filter of the mainstream press.  And when the trial came about in 1969, so that we could again do that for our readers, our Publisher, then Art Kunkin, actually went to New Orleans and reported, week after week, directly from the courthouse. And when you read his direct reports in the LA FP Issues of that year, you can see that there was surely more to it than the government-controlled media would print.

Art’s reports and, of course, the three books Garrison subsequentally wrote on the Kennedy assassination (1970, 1976, and the best-seller, On the Trail of the Assassins, in 1988), along with Oliver Stone’s 1991 film, JFK, based on Garrison’s work is a good answer to the earlier question of why you should listen to him. But, too, there is this statement by Murray Rothbard, Libertarian theorist: “Garrison, one of the most viciously smeared figures in modern political history, was simply a district attorney trying to do his job in the most important criminal case of our time.”  And, finally, now that our government has released the JFK Assassination File – nearly 50 years since the President was murdered – but shot thru and thru with redactions and without comment on the Warren Commission’s omissions, the complete text of his speech is even more interesting – and important.

Please take advantage of this rare opportunity to read through it.


There are, though, 3 additonal pages – ‘Were Oswald and Ruby Friends?’, ‘President Johnson Profited Most from the Assassination’, and ‘Oswald Framed with U.S. Help’ – which include a separate section of Garrison’s answers to the audience’s questions. They’re not placed here because of space and downloading considerations, but are available for free to Subscribers.
(Which reminds us… our Subscriptions are usually $60/year but, today, you can still get yours at the 1967 price of only $5!  (Yes, only $5 for the entire year – and with extra Subscriber-Only benefits.) Here’s a link to that Special RateCOME JOIN US… and help us bring this very unique perspective to all.)

Burning of the Age of Aquarius, Harbin Hot Springs


Hair’s long run on Broadway reinforced the counterculture imagery

Dragon gate welcomes still

I attended a revival of the first rock opera, Hair, a few years ago and, out of nowhere, tears flowed down my face during a rendition of  Let the Sunshine in/ Aquarius. I looked over at my girlfriend and she asked “What’s wrong. It is a joyful song, it is a hopeful message.” I responded, “You had to be there.” She is from a different country and generation, and to her the Age of Aquarius was just a song. For me and many of our generation ,Hair codified our culture’s ideals and vision. In September, 2015, a real world expression of that vision incinerated. It is being rebuilt, but it won’t be the same. Harbin Hot Springs’ latest incarnation was a direct descendant of ‘flower power’ in the best sense of that term. But when it rises again, like the phoenix, will it be true to its Sixties’ tradition?

Harbin’s Temple pre-fire

When the Valley Fire in 2015 descended on Harbin Hot Springs, buildings over a hundred years old turned to ash. All that remained was the twisted dragon-shaped iron works and the pools. Originally a haven of the local indigenous people, nineteenth century entrepreneurs capitalized on the then massive demand for the ‘water cure’ and built a succession of resorts in this spot in northern California in an out of the way canyon near Middletown, CA (named for its location as a stage stop mid-way between Calistoga and Clear Lake).

A lifelong counterculturalist (even in my disguise as an inner city high school principal), I discovered Harbin Hot Springs in the mid-90s. A quirky poet friend told me on the down-low about this mysterious place. One weekend we rolled up from LA. That first day felt like a homecoming for me. Disregarding the signs that prohibited alcohol and drugs, we fired up before entering, then perched in the oaks overlooking a motley crowd of hippies of all generations, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and life-styles. After the first few minutes, the titillation of dozens of naked bodies strolling around wore off and a kind of reverie settled in. Peace, love, and happiness prevailed. The natural hot springs pool accommodated about a dozen people—all in mandatory meditative silence. Around the regular pool and the heart-shaped pool, people carried on soft conversations, but mostly sat and read or napped.

 

Temple meadow now

Harbin developed into my own Shangri-La, where I regularly sought respite from the pressures of career, modern life, and my everyday self.  At Harbin, I could count on meeting new friends, sometimes amorous, whether alone or with a friend. Odd encounters frequently happened, as in the time I ‘accidentally’ ran into an acquaintance from home two years running. Or, a few years ago ,when I wanted to watch the NBA finals and went to the local brewery and met someone I had just spoken with in the pools. We were all from the same Aquarian tribe.  Like the vibe back in the sixties/ seventies, when every kid at the concert or the demonstration was a friend simply because we were there. We shared values and culture. Harbin felt the same. It attracted like-minded souls from around the world. I once had a didgeridoo healing from a young woman from Israel which touched me so deeply I cried.

The hippie Harbin was resurrected from ruins of a failed commune by Ishvara (originally Robert Hart) in 1972, who then sold the property to a religious corporation , Heart Consciousness Church, which he heads. For the 20 years on my annual trip I marveled at the on-going, quirky enhancements to the magical vibe. One year they added a winding path decorated with dragons and hobbit-like railings from the store front to the market. Several years ago a major improvement arose in the form of the Temple which looked like an old time big top circus and had perfect acoustics. The pools stayed largely the same except for the addition of sauna and steam bath rooms.

 

 

Harbin wasn’t all quiet and peace. They could party with either unconditional dance or live concerts providing entertainment in addition to the nightly free movies. At the dances, free flowing half-naked guests and residents gyrated to dj music—No partners (just like psychedelic concerts at the Fillmore in San Francisco).  Community vibes could happen anywhere at Harbin. The communal kitchen operated as the center for visitors. You could leave excess food in the community box. Help yourself. That applied during meals as well. Many times I shared my food with strangers. Of course, no meat was allowed in the kitchen.

The heart of Harbin was the staff: Over the years, I had many engaging conversations with them and they all had a story. Not drop-outs, but drop-ins to a calmer and freer lifestyle. I’ve met engineers, clowns, and teachers, who now played the roles of housekeeping or cook or security. For some, Harbin was a temporary refuge from the struggles of the world, and for others it became home.

 

Hippie ideals of peace, love, and community rooted and prospered at Harbin largely due to the vision and commitment of Ishvara. Ishvara was not a man who sought notoriety, but at the same time had always harbored big dreams for Harbin. As true hippies they honored the history of the place and the character of the 100 year-old buildings. Our parents’ generation had celebrated the modern in all things; new tract homes were preferred to older areas like Ocean Park and Venice and when hippie evolved out of beatnik, the hippie converts gravitated to older neighborhoods, like Haight-Ashbury. Old stuff had character and soul. We craved—authenticity. In those days the approbation slung at someone or something hopelessly square was—Plastic.

Under Ishvara, the old buildings were rehabbed and restored, links to earlier times. Nothing at Harbin was plastic, ersatz, or bogus. But the classic old buildings that had survived numerous fires before  are now gone. Only ruins of the concrete foundations, the stone fireplace chimney, and the pools remain.  The Age of Aquarius prospered and flourished at Harbin Hot Springs from 1978-2015, almost forty years. And now it is gone.

 

 

Heart pool right after the fire

Yes, it will be rebuilt, but the vision expressed in its last incarnation is over. Hippie dreams have completed their cycle. We had 130 acres of our vision and whatever rises in its place won’t be the same. It won’t have the same weight of history,  connection to the lineage of the 1960s, or heritage of the original settlers. The bromide ‘change is constant’ doesn’t mean much until we face major transitions which compel reinvention.

Harbin’s oasis in the Age of Aquarius is now returned to dust—whatever shall rise up will surely be 21st century. This old hippie, though, hopes they will keep a remembrance of a glorious place where hippies of all ages, ethnicities, and classes thrived in harmony with each other, and with nature. Nature has its due, and we are part of nature.

Hopefully, Harbin, will be, as is the Los Angeles Free Press, reincarnated with the ideals of old, along with new thoughts and strategies for creating a freer, more just and harmonious world. Time is real and there is no rewind, but we can influence its unfolding.

 

 

 

Hot pool is back, 2017

[Ed.s’ Note:  Read more by RW Klarin in this secction of the LA FP – Remembrances – or a whole more in his memoir/ self-help book—Living the Dream Deferred (2015)

In fact, you can even read about him with a short jump to our LA FP Staff page with a simple click HERE.]

Venice West No Longer Beat (down)


 

Next time you sip espresso with an organic, gluten-free sesame muffin, and listen to an open-mic poet at your favorite local café, you’re in debt to a culture and a time long obscured by the flood of history.   It’s way back when a typical evening at the café included a round or two of poets, bongo drums, and fellow beats sipping that espresso. You might have heard Stu Perkoff, one of the original Venice Beat poets, reciting his piece of a physically and spiritually complete life:

 

Feasts of Love, Feasts of Death by Stu Perkoff

sitting on the benches, bodies warm & throats filled with joy & love

we offered worship

sitting warm, eyes & skin touching, love flowing 

we offered worship

we sang & spoke languages & poems

offered worship & love

mixing the birds of passion & the swords of God in our beautiful young eyes

The Osteria Venice West faces the boardwalk in Venice.  Look across Dudley St. (formerly Los Angeles’ beach slum and now the high-tech Silicon Beach) and you’ll see the restored, now chic Cadillac Hotel.  In that beachfront block, where tourists, inner city visitors, homeless drunks, street vendors, and occasional locals like myself mix in a bouillabaisse of humanity, it’s not hard to imagine LA’s fifties counter-culture congregating here 55 years ago.   Like today’s eclectic crowd, the beatniks, refugees from “squaresville,” hunkered down in this space then known as Venice West Café.  Some lived in the Cadillac, at that time a low-rent boarding house.

This is the only Beatnik scene of the Fifties recognized by a City of Los Angeles historic marker. Other Venice Beat locations such as the Gas House (now a vacant lot filled with weekend vendors of tourist paraphernalia) and Lawrence Lipton’s house on Park Ave don’t get even that modest respect.  But Osteria Venice West houses the spirit and vibe of the beatniks that begat the hippie culture, which in turn, continues to impact our world through the counter-cultural ideas of yoga, organic food, classic rock, environmental concern, and global community.

Though this was so and, too, that some of the heroes of the hippies (Allen Ginsberg, Ken Kesey, and others), had their beginnings in the Beatnik world, I knew next to nothing about the Beatniks when I moved to Venice after graduating from UC Berkeley in the seventies.  At the time, vestiges of what had been a slum and refuge for artists, hippies, and other low-income individuals still lingered.  Funky (a word coined by the Beats) and casual, I felt right at home.

Alienated and not just a bit lazy, most of the Beats were young men who landed in Venice initially because it had fallen on hard times.  Once a bold and glorious real estate development, Abbott Kinney’s Venice of America, established in 1905, offered the burgeoning city of Los Angeles a beach fantasy land complete with canals, luxury hotels, amusements, and casinos.

Actually, Kinney and his partner, Francis Ryan, had planned an even larger project that went from Ballona Lagoon on the south to Santa Monica Pier to the north.  But, due to a business conflict, they split and the northern piece, Ocean Park, went to Ryan and was, eventually, annexed by the city of Santa Monica.  Nevertheless, the final development by Kinney was, immediately, a big hit.

However, over the years, as most flashy scenes do, Venice faded.  Its decline began in the twenties and, with the advent of Prohibition, a gang element took over. The Depression followed, then World War II and, by the forties, Venice’s former glory was just a memory with the old hotels turned into rooming houses for the elderly and poor.

Perfect for artists and bohemians with its cheap rents away from meddling by the power brokers of LA, it soon became a magnet for alienated young men and women who wanted to drop out from the mainstream.  To distinguish themselves from the squares, a slang developed that would assist a beatnik in determining a wannabee square from a fellow beat.  Many of their terms, ranging from “cool” to “cop-out” to “funky” to “turn on” to “shack-up” and others are still in use today.

I’d read Kerouac, Ferlinghetti, Snyder, and Ginsberg, knew little of their beliefs, values, and culture but, as an ardent participant in the hippie movement, I realized our antecedents were in the Beats.  And so, after reading a historical summary of Venice West Café Expresso, a visit to the seminal Beat location seemed appropriate.  It would be a kind of pilgrimage to my cultural ancestors, akin to visiting Gethsemane in Jerusalem or Trieste Cafe or City Lights Books in San Francisco or CG Jung’s tower near Zurich.  Everyday places now, but sites of cultural significance.

In mid-1958, Stuart Perkoff and a partner bought 7 Dudley Place, former shul (a Jewish meeting house) and later bleach factory to capitalize on the growing trend in coffeehouses.  They ripped off the plaster and exposed the brick walls.  On the Café’s opening day, a hand printed sign announced Art is Love is God.  

But soon thereafter, Perkoff, running short on funds and feuding with his partner, Lawrence Lipton, sold the Café.  Lipton’s book, a firsthand account of the burgeoning Beat scene, The Holy Barbarians, was published the very next month, February 1959. It sparked widespread interest in the Beats and throngs of wannabees, weekend Beatniks, and tourists descended on the area.   With this influx, and under its new ownership, the Café flourished. At times, a painter would use a blank wall for his colorful expressions, while a poet spouted his (they were almost always men) verse, often backed by a bongo player and/or jazz musicians.

But, as the late 50s turned into the early 60s there were years of complaints by uncool, non-Beat neighbors, and the equally obstinate protest of those complaints by its new owner. In 1964 the city of Los Angeles, through its Police Department, silenced the Cafe’s poets, and Venice West closed in 1965.  (More can be read about when that battle began and how it was, finally, won, in the original LA Free Press!)

RW Klarin checks the site of Venice West, 2016

On my visit to the site of Venice West, I noticed how much and how little has changed in Venice.  Within 50 feet of the now luxury Osteria Venice West, the homeless population congregates and hits up city day-trippers with crafts and sullen stares. Recently, next door at the Candle Café, I attempted to have a calm conversation with a friend while a rag-tag crew of ‘musicians’ played amplified instruments and passed the bucket.  Is it fair to say they are the descendants of the Beatniks?  They still play music, create “art,” and take a lot of drugs and alcohol.  Or is it the proprietor of the organic, gourmet restaurant who is today’s Beatnik?

Although of short duration and small in numbers, the Beat‘s influence has been surprisingly long lasting.  In addition to its gifts to the vernacular and to coffeehouse menus, it has also left us the drum circle, one that can still be heard each and every Sunday on Venice Beach.   And like many counter-cultures, it encouraged sexual liberation, eschewed ethnic bigotry, and advocated an anti-war creed.  Its embrace of cool jazz and cannabis predicted the wide dissemination of such tastes.  And, most importantly, the Beats recognized that mindless consumerism was a hamster-wheel, which research psychologists have confirmed does NOT lead to greater happiness or life satisfaction.

A key feature of Beat was the recognition that everyone has a creative soul.  One didn’t have to get an MFA to spout poetry or write a novel or throw paint on a canvas.  What mattered was your authenticity and soul.  The Beat movement was the first counter-culture to practice and encourage the freedom to create for everyone.  Their vision seeded today’s creativity explosion as seen in the availability of on-line video, print-on-demand books, blogs such as this, and sound clouds, where anyone with the courage and the urge can be an ‘artist’ and publish their creations.  More than a trend or a style, the Beats demonstrated that ‘living in society and not of it’ is possible.  So, when you down an espresso or attend an open-mic, you’re sampling a bit of Beatnik.

Plaque on the wall of Venice West

Strawberry Alarm Clock Is Right On Time in 2017


1967

50 years on

One minute I’m a 17 year old kid in the high school gymnasium listening to the coolest sound of the year, the next I’m on Venice beach with mike in hand interviewing them—50 years later.   Out of the mists of history and the utopian haze that enveloped our generation reappeared this summer.  Wearing the flowing kaftans with brightly swirling flower and paisley designs, the Strawberry Alarm Clock’s sound hasn’t changed.  Rare among old rock bands that do the legends thing, the majority of its members were there at the beginning.  But more importantly, they sound the same.  Even the new songs are in the pocket of Incense and Peppermints their number one hit.

This year all over the San Francisco Bay Area 1967’s Summer of Love is  being celebrated with numerous art exhibits, concerts, and tours.  Heavily supported by the local political establishment, weekly reports of happenings are published in the San Francisco Chronicle.  Notables from that era have been so heavily interviewed that Peter Coyote (one of the original Diggers) has said, no mas.  But down here hardly a whimper is heard.

But being a local Venetian and life-long counterculturalist, I can verify we had a  scene and we are celebrating the LA hippie era.   The epicenter of LA hippie was Venice/ Ocean Park with local faves; the Doors, Canned Heat, Spirit, Chamber Brothers, Love, and many more.

Venice hasn’t forgotten.  For the past twelve years the Venice Music Festival has hosted hippie era performers the Chambers Brothers (‘Time Has Come Today’), Country Joe and the Fish’s Barry Melton and this year the Strawberry Alarm Clock headlined.  As the sunset and a marine chill settled in, I smelled patchouli and herb in the air.  It felt like we’d taken the magic carpet ride back in time fifty years.

2017 Strawberry Alarm Clock with the LA Free Press Reporter, RW Klarin, holding a copy of the LA FP ad announcing them as Headliners at the Venice Beach hotspot, The Cheetah, in 1967

Before the show, representing the legendary LA Free Press, I interviewed the band.  Friendly and natural, they could have been your local BMW sales agent or fish store owner (which are the day jobs of a couple of the guys).  In response to my inquiry on changes to their music, Greg Bunnell (the bassist) said it is the same.  I can vouch for that— flute and organ highlights and ethereal harmonies replicate the sound of fifty years ago.   New songs contained a gentle social commentary just as the old songs were played with passion and fidelity.

The Alarm Clock insists that psychedelia lives and they do a great job of maintaining that vision of flowers, peace, and love.  At least for a couple hours in Venice time-travel was possible.

In search of hippie, I’ll be on the look-out for revivals of the hippie vision and report on these pages.  If you know of an event you think might fit, please send me a line.  Upcoming is a video report of the 50th anniversary of the Griffith Park love-ins.

 

 

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