Tag Archives | Revolutionaries

Alan Watts

Alan_Wattsdisinformation author (Create Your Own Religion: A How-To Book without Instructions) and all-round badass academic Daniele Bolelli has written a primer on Alan Watts for Datsusara:

Those who can’t resist the urge to take popular heroes down a notch will tell you that Alan Watts was an alcoholic and was addicted to nicotine. They will tell you that he was a victim of his own excesses. They will tell you that he sometimes mischaracterized Buddhism and Taoism, and turned them into hippie fantasies. In saying this, they wouldn’t be entirely wrong, but at the same time they would be completely missing the point. Nobody says Alan Watts was a saint. Watts himself never claimed it, nor would he have been interested in it. What he craved was an intense life, not a perfect one. And those who can’t appreciate his philosophical genius, just because the good man had some issues, miss out on the contributions of one of the most brilliant and influential minds of the 20th century.

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William S. Burroughs Interviews David Bowie: Beat Godfather Meets Glitter Mainman

BurroughsIn 1972 counterculture legend William S. Burroughs interviewed David Bowie for Rolling Stone. Thanks to Teenage Wildlife, the resulting article by Craig Copetas is once again available. Here’s a small excerpt:

Burroughs: Only politicians lay down what they think and that is it. Take a man like Hitler, he never changed his mind.

Bowie: Nova Express really reminded me of Ziggy Stardust, which I am going to be putting into a theatrical performance. Forty scenes are in it and it would be nice if the characters and actors learned the scenes and we all shuffled them around in a hat the afternoon of the performance and just performed it as the scenes come out. I got this all from you Bill… so it would change every night.

Burroughs: That’s a very good idea, visual cut-up in a different sequence.

Bowie: I get bored very quickly and that would give it some new energy.

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Twentieth-Century Neuronaut: Timothy Leary

Photo: Roy Kerwood (CC)

[disinfo ed.'s note: this original essay was first published by disinformation on June 21, 2001. It originally appeared at the Far Gone Books site and is reprinted here by kind permission of the author. Some links may have expired]

I was driving in traffic along West Temple on a hot Summer afternoon, when I felt the marquis outside of the Zephyr Club grinning down at me like some kind of self-satisfied voyeur–an unsettling experience that I hoped might finally be one of the “flashbacks” I’d always heard about, but which had never seemed to manifest in my own body chemistry. The sign announced an upcoming visit with none other than Timothy Leary; and having just spent a mad weekend on Ken Kesey’s farm the previous month, I wasn’t about to trifle with the Lords of Karma: I was riding a lucky streak. I also owned Leary’s phone number from a 1990 interview I had done with the Mad Doktor.Read the rest

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The Parts Left Out Of The Patty Hearst Trial (Part 2)

[disinfo ed.'s note: this original essay was first published by disinformation on June 10, 2002. Continues from Part 1]

Before the trial, Bailey’s associate, Albert Johnson, had protested that, “contrary to what Sheriff McDonald says, [Patty Hearst and Sara Jane Moore, attempted assassin of President Gerald Ford] have not exchanged cordialities . . . I don’t want any inferences drawn from any conduct of the two of them simply because they are in the same institution, because there is absolutely no connection between the two cases.”

But there was a missing link–the murder of Wilbert “Popeye” Jackson, leader of the United Prisoners Union. He had been killed, together with a companion, Sally Voye, while they sat in a parked car at 2:00 in the morning. I learned from impeccable sources that the hit was known in advance within the California Department of Corrections, the FBI, the San Jose and San Francisco police departments.… Read the rest

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The Parts Left Out Of The Patty Hearst Trial (Part 1)

Groucho Marx said during an interview with Flash magazine in 1971, “I think the only hope this country has is Nixon’s assassination.” Yet he was not subsequently arrested for threatening the life of a president. In view of the indictment against Black Panther David Hilliard for using similar rhetoric, I wrote to the San Francisco office of the Justice Department to find out the status of their case against Groucho. The response:

Dear Mr. Krassner:

Responding to your inquiry of July seventh, the United States Supreme Court has held that Title 18 U.S.C., Section 871, prohibits only “true” threats. It is one thing to say that “I (or we) will kill Richard Nixon” when you are the leader of an organization which advocates killing people and overthrowing the Government; it is quite another to utter the words which are attributed to Mr. Marx, an alleged comedian. It was the opinion of both myself and the United States Attorney in Los Angeles (where Marx’s words were alleged to have been uttered) that the latter utterance did not constitute a “true” threat.

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Nikola Tesla, Hacker Hero

Nikola Tesla's Wardenclyffe lab building, seen in 1904.

Kelly Faircloth explains why inventor extraordinaire Nikola Tesla has become an icon for the new generation of hackers, for the New York Observer:

For all the modern-day desire to emulate Steve Jobs, the heroic nerd isn’t a new American trope. As long ago as the Gilded Age, scientist Nikola Tesla was a celebrity. He lived at the Waldorf Astoria and was close friends with Mark Twain.

But he was neither entertainer nor robber baron. Rather, as the inventor of an effective alternating current system of power generation, he’d helped usher in a new, electrified era. His ambitious visions of the future (and complete lack of a filter) made great copy, meaning newspaper reporters were always eager to put him in print.

In 1901, at the height of his fame, Tesla built a laboratory in the rural farmland of Shoreham, Long Island. Dubbed Wardenclyffe, the facility was designed by Stanford White and meant to be the site of his greatest achievement yet: Intercontinental transmission of wireless radio signals.

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Let’s Build A Goddamn Tesla Museum

Disinfonauts, start up your Tesla coils and join the campaign to create a Nikola Tesla museum at Wardenclyffe, Long Island, NY (details at The Oatmeal and crowdfunding via Indiegogo):

Nikola Tesla was the father of the electric age. Despite having drop-kicked humanity into a second industrial revolution, up until recently he’s been an unsung hero in history books. If you don’t know who Tesla is, go read this.

Tesla’s final laboratory is located in the sleepy town of Shoreham, New York. It’s known as Wardenclyffe and it’s where Tesla attempted to build a tower that would provide free wireless energy to the entire earth. Unfortunately, Tesla lost his funding before the project was completed and in 1917 the Wardenclyffe tower was demolished. Subsequently, the land was sold to a film and paper manufacturer.

However, the land, laboratory, and foundation beneath the tower are still there and very recently went up for sale.

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Gore Vidal, RIP

Mark Coggins (CC)

One of America’s most daring, outspoken citizens is dead. The New York Times offers this obituary:

Gore Vidal, the elegant, acerbic all-around man of letters who presided with a certain relish over what he declared to be the end of American civilization, died on Tuesday at his home in the Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles, where he moved in 2003, after years of living in Ravello, Italy. He was 86.

The cause was complications of pneumonia, his nephew Burr Steers said by telephone.

Mr. Vidal was, at the end of his life, an Augustan figure who believed himself to be the last of a breed, and he was probably right. Few American writers have been more versatile or gotten more mileage from their talent. He published some 25 novels, two memoirs and several volumes of stylish, magisterial essays. He also wrote plays, television dramas and screenplays. For a while he was even a contract writer at MGM.

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Bill Hicks

[disinfo ed.'s note: this original essay was first published by disinformation on February 20, 2002. Some links may have expired.]

“Thank you. How you doing folks? Me too. You gotta bear with me, I’m very tired, very tired of traveling, and very tired of doing comedy, and very tired of staring out at your vacant faces looking back at me, wanting me to fill your empty lives with humor you couldn’t possibly think of yourselves. Good evening.”

Bill Hicks: the Nietzsche of comedy, the most legitimate social critic of the 1990s: a renegade messiah who tried to make people laugh, but usually ended up pissing them off, or drawing blank stares.

Born in 1961, Hicks died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 32, just as his career was peaking. He left in his wake a legacy of biting criticisms against American society: no inadequacy or hypocrisy was immune to his scathing satires, but don’t take my word for it.… Read the rest

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Nikola Tesla: Man Out Of Time

[disinfo ed.'s note: Nikola Tesla was born 156 years ago today. To mark the occasion, we're republishing a disinformation original essay by Katy Schiel, originally posted on July 1, 2002.]

Revered as a genius by contemporary press and public, but largely forgotten at the beginning of the Twenty-first century, Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla today demands recognition as one of the greatest masterminds of the technological century.

Born during a particularly violent electrical storm in 1856, Tesla became a fierce genius touched by a deeply poetic sensibility. At his zenith, he counted among his many friends and supporters Mark Twain, John Jacob Astor, JP Morgan, and George Westinghouse. Yet when he died in 1943, he was destitute and in the company of only his pet pigeons.

Tesla foresaw the power of the new electric medium in the coming century better than anyone of his era. By the early 1900s, Tesla had received patents on over one hundred of his inventions and developed countless more after it became financially impossible for him to continue the patenting process.… Read the rest

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