Paul Krassner

He Was No Hippie: Remembering Manson, Prison, Scientology, and Mind Control

When Charles Manson was a prison inmate, he got introduced to Scientology by fellow prisoners, and his ability to psych out people was intensified so that he could zero in on their weaknesses and fears. In 1967, he was released and went to the Scientology Center in San Francisco. A friend who accompanied him there told me, “Charlie said to them, 'I'm Clear – what do I do now?'”

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Hippies, Radicals, Pranksters: Jerry Rubin Has a Bio and Paul Krassner Has a Review

Pat Thomas, the author of “Did iT! From Yippie to Yuppie: Jerry Rubin, an American Revolutionary,” had noticed that there were six books about co-activist Abbie Hoffman, but none about Jerry Rubin, so Thomas welcomed the challenge. Seventy-five co-conspirators were interviewed for revealing anecdotes galore (including me), and this tome is a unique oral and visual history heavy enough to sink into your coffee table.

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Do We Owe Military-Style Police Swat Teams to the Wild Story of Patty Hearst and the SLA?

I asked author Brad Schreiber, “Why is your new book about the kidnapping of Patty Hearst important now?”

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One Patient's Ridiculous, Surreal Experience Getting Medical Pot in the California Desert

This article first appeared in The Fix, which features coverage on addiction and recovery, straight up. 

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Healthcare Is So Horrible Here that Thousands Rely on Free Clinics - And You're Fined if You Don't Use Prescription Drugs

Although Coachella Valley in Southern California has become synonymous with music festivals, Goldenvoice, the company that produces those events, also helped sponsor the first massive four-day health clinic this year. Free medical, dental and vision care was provided to nearly 2,500 uninsured patients at the Riverside County Fairgrounds.

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A Tale of Two Alternative Media Conferences

In June 1970, a charter flight was on its way from San Francisco to the Alternative Media Conference at Goddard College in Plainfield, VT. The passengers consisted entirely of attendees. Larry Bensky, then KPFA news anchor, recalls, “It was one of the craziest trips ever taken by anyone, anywhere, I’m sure. Many on the plane were tripping on acid.”

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How Corporations Co-opted the "Flash Mob"

And God said, “Let there be co-option.” Corporations are currently hiring flash mobs for marketing purposes. It was inevitable. Those rehearsed gatherings of fake spontaneity in public places were fun for the sake of fun -- mostly featuring musical instruments, singing, and dancing –- that served as magnets for inadvertent audiences with smartphone cameras, helping to push such heartwarming events into viral cyberspace.

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My Brother's Keeper

When my brother George and I were kids, I could recite the alphabet backwards, whereas he read the entire dictionary. We both played the violin, and when he was nine and I was six, we performed at Carnegie Hall. (I was the youngest concert artist in any field to perform there.) Our younger sister Marge took piano lessons and became a legendary figure at Boys & Girls High School in Brooklyn, teaching music and running the chorus. Now retired, she and two women--one plays the cello, the other a flute--have been booked to perform at the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, playing music connected to various phases of Dali’s life.

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Who Do You Think Created the Term Yippie?

I really don’t like to boast, but in my lifetime, on half a dozen occasions, I have actually added words and phrases to the language. It’s something I always wanted to do. What a thrill it must have been Dr. Harold Cerumen who decided that cleaning out earwax should be known as “cerumen disimpaction.” And veterinarian Alice Neuticle who coined the word “neuticles”—cosmetic testicles for a dog that’s been neutered.

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Why We Want to Keep Church and State as Far Away from Each Other as Possible

Last month in London, an atheist church was launched with a reading from Alice in Wonderland, a Powerpoint presentation by a particle physicist explaining the origins of antimatter, and a congregational singalong with songs by Stevie Wonder and Queen. Indeed, we’ve come a long way, baby. Personally, I stopped believing in God when I was a kid and the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. How, I thought, could an omnipotent deity allow that to happen?

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The New NORML: Looking Back at 40-Year Crusade to End Marijuana Prohibition

In 1972, two years after Keith Stroup founded NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) with the aid of a $5,000 grant from the Playboy Foundation, he met, at the Democratic National Counter-Convention in Miami, a trio of countercultural icons: Hunter Thompson, Abbie Hoffman and Tom Forcade.

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'60s Icon Paul Krassner Reveals His Early History with Abortion

When abortion was illegal, women had no choice but to seek out back-alley butchers for what should have been a medical procedure in a sterile environment. If there was a botched surgery and the victim went to a hospital, the police were called and they wouldn’t allow the doctor to provide a painkiller until the patient gave them the information they sought.

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Marijuana Is Real Medicine

Dying to Get High: Marijuana as Medicine is an important and accessible book -- not heavy on academic jargon, but rather lively and engaging, like a true detective novel -- with a broad appeal to those interested in the medical potential of cannabis, an end to the drug war and grass roots activism. I asked the co-authors, Wendy Chapkis and Richard Webb, how working on the book changed them.

WENDY CHAPKIS: "I certainly was one of those people who thought that 'medical marijuana' was probably mostly a way for Americans to get around ridiculously punitive drug laws. It seemed like a reasonable strategy to me. But the very first time I walked into a WAMM [WoMen's Alliance for Medical Marijuana] membership meeting, looked around the room and saw people who were ghostly white and frail, people in wheelchairs, people huddled in small groups talking about a WAMM member who needed round the clock care, I realized that medical marijuana was no 'ruse.' These were very ill people. And, as I started doing interviews, the stories of the medicinal properties of pot blew me away.

"I wasn't the only one surprised to discover that marijuana did in fact have therapeutic effects. Many patients were equally astonished. Like me, they had been recreational users who appreciated the pleasurable effects of marijuana and were suspicious of the claim that the herb was medicine. Then they started chemotherapy, for example, found themselves fighting off non-stop nausea, took a hit and the nausea disappeared. Or they had intolerable nerve pain from multiple sclerosis, AIDS or post-polio syndrome, used some cannabis tincture and the pain quieted down. It was funny how surprised we all were that it really worked.

"I think this shows how effective drug-war propaganda really is. Even (or maybe especially) people who are very familiar with marijuana are prepared to believe that it doesn't really work as a medicine. Of course, since the discovery of the cannabinoid receptor system in the body (and the production of endogenous cannabinoids), scientists haven't been at all surprised at the medical properties of the plant -- which I guess helps explain why the feds have been so reluctant to allow any scientific research.

"In any case, this research really transformed my understanding of the effects of cannabis -- including enriching my understanding of the therapeutic effects of the so-called 'high.' The chapter on the high is one of my favorites because I think even the medical marijuana movement tends to downplay the psychoactive properties of the drug. They talk a lot about relief of ocular pressure, anti-nausea properties and the effect of cannabis on AIDS-wasting and relief of neuropathic pain, but there is very little discussion of the ways in which the psychoactive effects contribute to a sense of wellness for those who are seriously ill. And that is no small thing."

RICHARD WEBB: "Working with the WAMM has, indeed, been a transformative experience. I have learned a great deal, and formed some of the most cherished and important relationships of my lifetime, but perhaps the most profound change for me has been the development of a new awareness of the importance of compassion and forgiveness. Two events epitomize the many experiences that led to this change.

"The Gay Pride festival in San Francisco has been one of WAMM's most successful annual fundraising events. One year, I was working T-shirt sales, and when I turned my back for a moment, someone in the crowd stole a pile of shirts. Angry at the perpetrators and embarrassed about my carelessness, I told Valerie Corral, WAMM's executive director, about it, and all she said was, 'Well, let's hope they get a good price for them, because they must need the money very badly." Val's forgiveness was like an epiphany, a moment I will never forget. It was as if a lifetime of blame and resentment had been lifted from my heart, and I became suddenly aware of the deep suffering that drives some people to behave badly.

"When I began my research on WAMM, one of the first people I got close to was an HIV patient named John Taylor. As a result of his illness, John was desperately poor and physically debilitated, but he retained a sense of humor and joie de vivre that made him a pleasure to be around. We eventually became best friends, and when at last John's struggle against the disease became futile, I turned my living room into a hospice facility and, with the assistance of many WAMM members -- most of whom were trying to manage their own devastating ailments -- I was able to provide John with a safe and comfortable place to live out his final ten weeks.

"These experiences, and many others of a similar nature, have almost completely altered my view of the world, my sense of who I am, and my beliefs about what is most important in life."

Meanwhile, Barack Obama promises he would curb federal enforcement on state medical marijuana suppliers. John McCain has actually ridiculed patients who pleaded for more compassionate policies.
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