In CryptoBeast #19 Chip Wood claimed that he created the Grateful Dead in 1963 in Fountain Valley School in Colorado Springs, where he was a student with Bob Weir and John Perry Barlow, as a psyop to prevent global thermonuclear war.
In this episode I present some of my own research into the Grateful Dead, the Merry Pranksters, and Stanford’s “Bohemian Quarter”, Perry Lane.
I recorded this before Easter but have experienced computer problems like never before trying to edit it and get it out on YouTube. The best way I could describe the issues would be “jamming”. Large chunks of files would go missing, uploads and render jobs would continually fail 80% of the way through, or Final Cut would just crash. It may be that my aging iMac doesn’t have the juice to render HD files from my new webcam and with my different background.
For some reason today it finally all worked – except for some weird audio and video gremlins. My computer today is just the same as yesterday and a week ago, so what changed? Today New Zealand’s entire military/intelligence apparatus is focused on Prince William’s visit to the two Christchurch mosques. Ding that coincidence meter again.
Please download and share the video just in case They are trying to shut it down.
Here’s the previous episode in which Chalmers Wood, Jr shared his story of the true origins of the Grateful Dead.
Citations, References, Further Research
Steve Outtrim, Joe Atwill, Hans Utter, Jan Irvin – special presentation on the 50th anniversary of the Human Be-In and the Summer of Love
Afterward, Kerry came out and told us, among other, more important things, about how he discovered the Fillmore West and the Dead when he came to SF after Viet Nam, and how the Dead have remained a big part of his life ever since. As soon as he said it, a woman just behind me screamed out, “Yeaaaah!!!!” I turn around expecting a hippy chick who got in, like me, on a miracle ticket. I see a 60 year old, perfectly coiffed woman in a $2,000 gown, looking every inch a CEO, with a huge grin on face, shaking her fists in the air. Every one around me is grinning, too. A couple of high-buck, gray-beard lawyers in front of me start up the chant: “Go Johnny! Be Good!” And you know, I started to believe he will be.
LaROUCHE: He was pro-Nazi.(Carl Jung) He was an occultist, satanic cultism. I don’t know if he went as far as (Aleister) Crowley did in identifying Satan, but it was the same structure. Allen Dulles(C.I.A. director) was very close to this crowd personally. As to what was going on in Allen’s mind at this time I don’t fully know. But then you get the MK-ULTRA operation.
60 Greatest Conspiracies: The mind control operation?
LaROUCHE: That was an Allen Dulles period operation which was run together with the occult types in British intelligence, such as Aldous Huxley. And also Gregory Bateson who created, for example, the Grateful Dead out of an MK-ULTRA operation at the Palo Alto Veteran’s Hospital where he was supervising. The first United States-grown rock group of that type, the Grateful Dead, was generated as a British intelligence operation by the Occult Bureau of Huxley and bateson out of the Palo Alto Veteran’s Hospital where they were doing LSD and related experiments.
60 Greatest Conspiracies: Why would British intelligence want to put out a rock roup?
LaROUCHE: Well, this is part of the Satanism business. Call it the counterculture. Call it the Dionysius model of the counterculture. Rock is essentially a revival of the ancient Dionysic, Bacchic rituals. Lots of people or long periods of time in that kind of particular rhythmic ritual which was probably struck upon empirically many thousands of years ago for this type of cult. It does have a relationship to the Alpha rhythms of the brain. It does produce these sorts of states. If combined with a little alcohol and more, shall we say, mood shaping substances, with youth, with funny sex, this does produce a profound change of a countercultural type.
Another word for it: New Age. the longer term: age of Aquarius. People were experimenting with various utopian models, constructing small groups experimentally which were considered New Age types. How to create experimental types that might survive the aftermath of a general nuclear war.
60 Greatest Conspiracies: Was this whole trend continued after Dulles’ departure?
LaROUCHE: He was not the controlling factor. I wouldn’t make him the evil black widow spider. He was part of it. The operation goes way back. But in the United States this particular operation goes to about 1938. The Nazis were operating in the 1930s out of Hollywood and elsewhere with an occult astrology racket kind of intelligence operation.
At that point the Huxley operation out there which is already established, the marijuana operation and so forth in the 1930s, was already hooked up. 1963 I would say was a watershed year for explosion of this thing, around the LSD, Beatles proliferation. And then you have another one in recent years where explicit Satanism has really exploded. -clarson, email@example.com
This is quite an incredible story, and I’d like to sincerely thank Chip for choosing my channel to break it on.
Please contribute to Chip’s GoFundMe, which will help him finish and publish his book.
Let us know what you think in the comments, and any questions you want me to ask Chip in the next interview. Diehard Deadheads may be outraged to learn their favorite band is a psyop, others who have followed the research of myself, Dave McGowan, Joe Atwill, Jan Irvin and many others before us may not find the material such a shock.
Previous show with Robert and Joe discussing John Perry Barlow and Timothy Leary:
Included in this post is some of Chip’s writing and photos. At the end I will add some more from my own research collection. I have purchased the Fountain Valley School yearbooks for 1963 and 1964 and can confirm that Barlow, Weir, and Chip Wood all appear together in the 1963 yearbook.
Three months after “Chip” is created, when he is the size of a three inch banana and his “eye buds” are forming, his mother tries to commit suicide. The rest of his gestation is “distressed” and he is born premature with his left eye points up & to the extreme left. (strabismus) His unpleasant mother is greatly disturbed, and cried that Chip is a spawn of Satan sent to ruin her comfortable and wealthy diplomatic life. But Chip’s father, a young super star diplomat in the Marshall Plan, gives Chip his love, and takes him to London for many dangerous eye operations. They play “Light & Dark” baby games together, and become very close with a near-psychic ability to communicate. His father tells him a million times: “You may have a bad eye, but your brain is just fine!” Chip believes his father, and soon teaches himself how to build flying model airplanes by self-education.
When leaving Brussels for Manila during the Hukbalahap Rebellion there, Chip’s father is afraid the Europeans will believe America will forget Europe and their great dream to change into a war-free European Union. To assuage their leaders of these fears at his farewell garden party, Chips father persuades him to play Mannequin Piss on a pedestal to everyone’s amusement. It is Chip’s diplomatic debut.
After contracting Polio in Manila, Chip’s family moves to McLean, Virginia, and live in a wonderful house surrounded rolling and beautifully forested hills west of Washington. It becomes Chip’s magic Garden of Eden. When he is nine, in August, 1957, he saves his father’s career by persuading a Vietnamese leader to return to a South East Treaty Organization party in their family home. The leader had become outraged, and demanded the conference immediately end. Nobody could bring the leader “back” to the gathering, and Chips father was faced with becoming “the man who lost Vietnam”, a career killer. Then Chip does a weird rotating left eye trick he had taught himself, and leads the leader back to the party. The next morning Eisenhower hears at his breakfast CIA briefing that “Foreign Service Officer Ben Wood’s retarded son saved the conference with his magic left eye.” Chips family moves to Vietnam where they eventually learn America will soon go to war, lose, and try to use nukes at the end. Chip decides to become a low-profile anthropologist, teacher, and private diplomat.
One day his first girlfriend suddenly tells him: “OMG, Chip, you are actually smart!” He believes her, and becomes smarter. In May, 1963, Chip creates the logos, name, business & artistic properties for what becomes the band “The Grateful Dead, and entrusts into the hands of Robert hall Weir who later, with Chip’s brother, totally betrays Chip’s interests. In 1966, Chip takes a Topology IQ test and scopes over 160. Chip’s father’s career, he had been Kennedy’s Vietnam adviser, is, after Dallas, destroyed by Johnson. Chip’s acceptance to U. Colorado vaporizes, and he must enter the Army for the war in Vietnam.
While training in Georgia, Chip meets Hamilton Jordan, and creates for him a plan to make his boss Jimmy president so he can start a Mid East Peace process, recognize China, and win a Nobel. Chip becomes an outstanding military leader, and a decorated combat veteran Green Beret “A” Team Commander. Just before leaving Vietnam, Chip creates a plan for a fellow Black Panther Green Beret from Chicago to go home, and create a champion black basketball player that speaks good English, then a champion black golfer that speaks better English then the golf commentators, and then America’s first black President. It works.
Back in America, chaos reigns. Chip races Motocross, then enters a yoga monastery. Chip’s father is murdered by interests controlling the revenues of the Grateful Dead Band, and Chip is threatened with murder by Phil Lesh. Chip moves to Nanjing to teach English, and improve Chinese/American relations, and becomes famous there. etc, Etc, ETC !
July 2, 1991, Page 00018The New York Times Archives
Chalmers Benedict Wood, a retired Foreign Service officer who served as an adviser to the South Vietnamese Government, died on Thursday at the Medical Center of Princeton, N.J. He was 73 years old and lived in Princeton.
He died of a brain hemorrhage, the funeral home said.
Mr. Wood, a 1940 graduate of Harvard College, joined the Foreign Service in 1947 after serving in the Army Air Force from 1940 to 1945. He was stationed in Brussels and Manila before going to Washington to serve as the State Department’s officer for Greece.
In 1957, he was named second secretary at the United States Embassy in Saigon and from 1959 to 1963 was in charge of Vietnamese affairs at the State Department. From 1964 to 1966 he served as first secretary in London and the next year directed the Cyprus office at the State Department.
Mr. Wood was then senior adviser for Binh Dinh province in Vietnam from 1967 to 1969. He returned to the State Department in 1970 with the office of Philippine affairs and from 1971 to 1974 served in the American Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand, as deputy chief of mission and charge d’affaires. Then he became a consultant on energy research and development.
He is survived by his wife, Patricia; two sons, Ramsay and Chalmers, and two daughters, Felicity and Penelope.
Chip’s brother Ramsay was also connected to the Harvard Psychedelic Project in the days of Timothy Leary and Henry Murray (OSS), which was involved in several of the 149 different subprojects of the joint British-US MKULTRA operation. Ramsay lives in London and is a Sufi priest. It is interesting that his Wikipedia page talks quite a bit about Lawrence Lessig, who was a close friend of John Perry Barlow. They were involved in setting up Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. Barlow talks about Lessig in his memoir, and even Chip gets a brief mention.
Included, “Ben’s Bacon” re how I got the GD gig later. After that SEATO gathering, all sorts of folks came down to my basement model airplane shop to talk “mutual” shops. One was Major General Edward G. Lansdale, my “Uncle ED”, life mentor from Manila in 1950, and later Director Eilliam Egan Colby, “Uncle Bill”, whom I met in Saigon in 1958.
Also included “Ed & Maya” re how I profiled the right Asian American virgin nerd-girl to design the wall. Ed found her, and she did very VERY GOOD. And with about 140,000,000 having visited and shed tears there, they might be interested in my yarn. We shall see. Thanks for your interest.
With daughters. The girls are all right!
PERSONAL BACKGROUND. 1947-1963:
Because my arguing gold-diggging Mom traumatically near-killed herself and me when I was three months insider her just as my eye-buds were forming, I was born walleyed, and thought retarded.
As an infant I went under the knife for deadly frightening eye operations in London during which I thought I was dying. Then I would wake up in post op blind with both eyes heavily bandaged, drugged to the nines, and Dad holding my hands gently singing old sea shanties: “In Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty, I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone…” We became very close even though I couldn’t yet even talk.
After my operational frights, and I could see again, I became a silent, unhappy, and autistic. So clever Dad took me to a Marshall Plan funded classical music concert for wounded WWII vets.
We were just three rows back center, the orchestra almost in touching distance. The first two pieces were somber yet growing, and Dad showed me how to wave my arms about as was the conductor. I responded, the only child there. Dad must have made a donation or something beforehand because the conductor and orchestra would occasionally look at me, smile, and a few even waved baby style. I was mesmerized, standing in my seat, and happily became interactive with them. Near by folks were amused. The band was deeply involved emotionally with the entire audience, the wounded, halt, lame, dispirited, homeless, all, and were playing their hearts out for us. Then Dad, grinning very big, shook me like a rag doll me with a big “AH-HA!” gesture, and the orchestra launched into Beethoven’s Fifth.
I was thunder and lightning struck to the depth of my bones for life. Words fail: I was a pre-verbal child. But the adult phrase “exploding in a supernova of reborn from the dead by love of life” are reasonable. When we were all leaving after the last of many concert hall shaking encores, many were crying determined to rebuild worn torn Europe immediately, and make our world a better place. Me crying too, and Dad took me home to bed where I dreamed infant dreams of God only know what all. So is it any wonder what I first sketched when designing the logos for the band Dad gave me permission to create in May, 1963?
See a head-link?
Ben’s Bacon DRAFT
August, 1957, my childhood drew
to a close. Dad was asked by Ike and both Dulles brothers, one running the
Central Intelligence Agency, and the other the Department of State, to go to
little Vietnam on the other side of our world and stop a looming war there. Dad
was to try to avoid that potential fiasco because many nations and the Vatican feared
such it could lead to a disastrous global thermonuclear conflict. He was to
develop trusting liaisons with South Vietnam’s President Diem, and committed back
channels communications with Ho Chi Minh in North Vietnam as Roosevelt had during
World War Two when “Uncle Ho” had fought with us against the Japanese, and
saved our pilots shot down in the jungles.
Such was Dad’s bacon and eggs.
He had become quietly loved throughout Europe during the Marshall Plan as a super
star young diplomat able to charm birds off trees, slide fat envelopes of his
own cash over or under a table in two shakes of a lamb tail, and solve a vexing
Cold War problem to the East by the third shake. We as a family had all joined
into the passion of that amazing era. We were enchanted as most everyone there
was amid the shocking ashes of World War Two which still smelled of death, and
the still reverberating echoes of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bomb
episodes in Japan. All of us were determined “to make our world into a better and
Dad’s dream was to be appointed
our American Ambassador to Paris, as had been his friend and mentor David K.
Bruce*. That was Dad’s bacon. That he spoke fluent French
was his eggs, and that he had majored in European History back in the old days
at Harvard before serving in Europe in WWII, was his hot morning coffee. Dad
Prior to his departure, a large
delegation of powerful Vietnamese and their wives came to Washington for a
crucial South East Asia Treaty Organization conference. But for two frustrating
weeks it had become a difficult and unhappy gathering in the steaming summer
Washington heat. So, for a little holiday, the delegates and their wives were
invited by Dad out of their secret bolt hole hotels, and into our home to
relax, refresh themselves in our cool and rolling forested hills west of
Washington, and personally get to know “A Real American Family!” They were
After the Secret Service had
inspected our home for dangers etc, and radioed to the police our home was
“safe”, the Vietnamese delegates arrived in a long procession of black
government sedans. It was my job to take the wives up to my room, and show them
all the little things that made up the life of a real live American boy. That
had long been my designated junior diplomatic family job: Charmer Chip.
The slender wives, the very
cream of Vietnam’s womanhood, dressed in their long and colorful traditional
diaphanously svelte Vietnam Ào Dài dresses, were for stunned ten year old me
the most charming and beautiful creatures ever to walk this earth. So after all
the introductions on our front porch, I lead them upstairs to my bedroom, sat
them all on my bed, and made my best junior diplomatic welcoming speech: “Dear Ladies
of Vietnam, welcome into my family home, and my American life. Please ask me
ANY question you wish. Please! Do not be shy! I am here with you, and at your
service! Those are my favorite pictures. There is Davey Crocket and his famous
long rifle ‘Betsy’, that’s a B-52 taking off with JATO rocket assist, that’s a romantic
castle in Scotland…” And so it went, the hidden switch on my reading light, my study
desk and Potomac school books, my short wave radio for listening to anywhere in
the world, through the clothes in my dresser and closet, and so on through
everything, which they examined as if detective and scientists. They “Oood,
Ahhed”, chattered among themselves, and the Leading Lady asked their questions,
such as which was my favorite book, and could they please see my shoes? By the
time I had shown them everything
right down to the toothbrushs in my bathroom, and I had answered all their
questions, we were never to be forgotten friends for life.
So I took them to our kitchen
for their coup de grâce*: a just carefully made,
perfectly salted, buttered, touch of sugar southern styled whipped to fluffy
cream steaming bowl of mashed potatoes. Our very American made General Electric
Triple Whip Maschine Oder Ehrfurcht Und Wunder was whipping the creamed potatoes threateningly as
I quickly dipped my practiced finger in between the whirling blades for a hot
dollop of deliciousness to my mouth, and motioned for them to do the same.
It was our calculated family
kitchen-trick with guests: frighten them a little, then delight them. It would
be a little memory they would take home to Vietnam, and tell friends about. The
wives were genuinely frightened, shrinking back in alarm. They had never in
their lives seen such a dangerous kitchen machine whipping away like a brazen
gallon-sized dragon of unforgivingly hard white and chromium American steel.
Naturally, I stepped boldly up to the menacing monster as Almighty God Zeus
would to slay another lady-killing Dragon, reached up my manly United States
arm, and switched it off.
The wives hands darted up to
cover their mouths, hiding their gasps of relief. So I turned it on again, took
the Leading wife’s dainty hand, guided it up to the switch, and made her turn it off. Pink rushed to her
cheeks, always a good sign with females, and she tittered like a Nightingale in
After much chatter, we all dipped
in for a mutual nibble, looked all around at each other, raised our dolloping
fingers to our mouths, and tasted together as one. Their eyes grew large,
squeals of delight blossomed all-round, and our mutual amities were forever
thereafter engraved upon the Harmonies of Heaven’s Mandate. Then they rushed
out to drag in strict order their husbands, and school them about their next
family American made acquisition. [Vietnamese
wives have more in-family power than most Westerners realize. For example, the
legend of Cinderella’s Magic Fairy God Mother came from Vietnam to the West via
night time fireside travel stories along China’s Silk Road. Centuries later during
our foolish war there, I was always peculiarly lucky as if by the Magic of a
secret Fairy Godmother.]
Ahhh, Diplomacy when it is right
and good! A while later everyone was gathered on our north porch overlooking
the majestic Potomac River far below. Cocktails, drinks, refreshments, or
snacks were in all hands. The mood shifted, became more optimistic, and the
possibility the conference could succeed seemed in reach. Everyone was smiling,
a few laughing lightly, the clink of glasses touching steady, Dad was pleased,
and I so proud of him. Up in the forest around our home a breeze stirred the
leaves in the treetops as murmurings and whisperings in the blue sky’s
Suddenly, the large Vietnamese
political “Great Leader” became outraged because of a misunderstanding, and
demanded the whole conference come to an end immediately. He stalked out to the
edge of our lawn, turned his back on everyone, and folder up his arms in anger.
This was a diplomatic disaster for Dad because he would be blamed for “loosing
Vietnam” for the rest of his diplomatic career! Dad and several others went out
to ask the leader to please return to the conference, but he refused. Dad and I
were very close, and I could see he was worried, and even frightened. I had never
seen that before!
It shocked me deeply! Dad was my
greatest hero. I couldn’t understand it. So I went to him. He was walking
hurriedly back and forth in our living room inside from our porch where
everyone was standing in rigid silence. He was looking as I had never seen
before. I stood in trembling alarm waiting for him to recognize me.
Surprisingly quickly, he suddenly stopped, and looked at me. “Yes Chip?” he
asked. “May I try?” He looked at me as if I was an alien just blasted in from the
Alpha Centauri star system. Then he suddenly laughed, threw up his arms, and said, “Well, EVERYTHING
else has failed! So why not? Certainly Chip. You go try!”
And thus I embarked upon my
first solo international diplomatic escapade! I knew I had three diplomatic
weapons no one else there had. (1.) I was ten years old, and I knew from long
family experience it is foolish, and even politically dangerous for any big
leader to abuse a charming child in front of wives and witnesses. (2.) I had
heard stories about the prisoners of war in Asia recounting: if you sang, and
acted crazy doing interesting and weird things with your body, an Asian might
wonder whether you were possessed by The Divine, and treat you well. And (3.)
quite secret, I could do a trick with my eyes that shocked adults, and made my
friends roll on the floor with laughter. I had become frustrated with my birth-defective
left eye. When tired, my left eye would wander up and away to my left, and I
would be teased mercilessly: “Hey wall-eyed retard!” So after weeks of practice in front
of a mirror, I had taught myself to keep my right eye still while moving my
left eye in circles. Like the Devil’s evil magic, I could look into your eyes
with my right eye, and at the same time make my left eye go around and around
in big circles! I had once played the trick to a mean old aunt of a primitive
religion, and she had jumped back, and squeaked in horror: “Get thee away from
me Satan!” Then she had run away. It was so cool!
So I ran down to my basement
workshop, got my best model airplane glider, ran out to him with it, and
launched it so it floated by right in front of him. He glanced at me, grunted,
and looked away embarrassed. He had never been buttonholed by an American kid when
angry, and he knew danger when he saw it. I attacked again, launching my
airplane right by him. “Wouldn’t you like to fly my airplane with me?” I
persisted in my most charming and musical voice.
He looked at me, so as quick as I could in
order to hold his attention, I started explained the rudiment of aviation. “You
see Sir, I made this glider myself from Balsa wood and glue. This tail-plane
area is twenty three percent of the wing area, the wing has a nine to one
span-to-cord ratio with eight degrees of dihedral for stability, and the
plane’s balance point is forty percent back from the leading edge, which I can
adjust with play-clay here on the nose”. I pointed at it. “Because balance is a
key to controlled flight, just like Confucius said: balance is very important!
Isn’t it just SO interesting!?”
His eyes widened slightly, and
he looked at me with sufficient surprise to forget his anger. We looked deep
into each other’s eyes for two heartbeats, and before he could remember his
anger and look away, I stepped closer, looked harder into his eyes, and said:
“Dear Sir, won’t you PLEASE come
back to my father’s party? It’s for you!”
I put a worried look on my face. “If you don’t come back Sir, my father will
lose his job, and then we won’t be able to afford the expensive surgical
operation I need…” And, keeping my right eye glued between his eyes, I
started making my left eye go around in the biggest circles I could. “…and then I won’t be able to go to a good
school, and get the education I need to be a great diplomat like you and my
father! Please Sir?”
He instantly drew in his breath
with an “Oh!” of shock as he stepped back from me. Quick as I could, I stepped
forward again, grabbed him politely by his wrist like a policeman slapping
cuffs on a perp, and pulled. “Please?!!” And he came! So I took
his big hand in mine, and lead him back up to our porch as a wayward lamb, back
where eyes swelled, mouths fell agape, his giggling twinkling-eyed wife tittered
anew, whispered wagers on my gambit were won and lost, and Dad rushed forward
to receive him.
I hurried away as if busy with
other family chores. I knew that would create the best diplomatic impression
because it would give everyone the freedom to say all sorts of wonderful things
about me they wouldn’t say if I stayed for their praise. And, it made it
impossible for the Great Leader to get angry when it to dawned on him he had
been bamboozled by a ten year old retard.
That evening Dad admitted I had
“…done good”, and winked at me. Saving Ben’s Bacon had been fun, and that night
I dreamed of him our Ambassador in Paris. I later heard, though it was probably
just another amusing Washington DC cocktail story, that the next morning, just
as President Eisenhower was sipping his steaming hot breakfast coffee, his
morning CIA briefing officer told him, timing his words carefully, exactly how
the conference had been saved, and a possible global thermonuclear war averted
by the spin of “Foreign Service Officer Ben Wood’s son Chip, and His Magic Left
Eyeball”, and the President of the United States of America, the most powerful
man in the world, spilled hot coffee all over his lap.
1. A deathblow delivered to end the misery of
a mortally wounded soldier.
2. A finishing stroke, or decisive
Uncle Ed & The
Girl at Yale
by Chalmers Wood 3/18
It started when I was a
kid reading Confucius. His thinking seemed more advanced in the long term than
our zero sum Roman Empire based stuff. Rome had fallen. The English Empire was
teetering. Dad and I discussed it at length. We were extremely close, our
mutual love and trust beyond doubt. Dad introduced me to Edward G. Lansdale
about ‘51 in Manila when I was five. Before Ed came to our home for dinner, Dad
said he was unhappy because someone back in Washington had made trouble for
him. I was the family charmer. Dad asked me: “Chip, can you please make Ed feel
good again about America?”
well. Ed was a genuine American hero. Soon he was bouncing me on his knee,
blowing great harmonica, and telling fantastic stories about Jap Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda up in the hills still fighting WWII. Ed was a
great subtle win/win Confucian Christian American guy with music. “Uncle Ed”! He’d
squelched the Hukbalahap Rebellion
two days before its getgo because he spent a lot of time out humping the bush
making real friends among all comers while not abusing their young women etc.
So the locals had told him what was going down.
Then some wannabee back in Washington boasted about Ed’s secret Huk
exploits with names, and they were
soon murdered back out in the Philippine’s bush. I could feel he’d been somehow
wronged when we first met. Something bad. Later when I heard all, it cautioned
me about American field service, and going private became a thought. We are a
culturally young & mixed nation, with only about 11% the time learning by
directly experience re national cultural developments compared to old China. It
tells. To my thinking: learning by direct experience often beats book learning,
and both is best.
While in Vietnam (’68-’69) as a Special Forces Lieutenant, my de
facto job was (a.) planning with both Vietnams their obvious eventual
unification, their developmental
future entry into world trade, creating domestic and foreign reserves, and the so
on get rich stuff. That went with extreme subtly, while (b.) I went about more openly
under the cover and security of Uncle Bill Colby’s killer Phoenix Program while
(c.) appearing to be a normal psyops guy, Ed’s specialty. [I had met “Uncle Bill” William E. Colby in
old Saigon in ’58] That sounds unusual, but I’d known the Viets for a decade, and
they knew me from childhood, especially the elite wives, and they had more direct power in their families than any
American ever knew. In fact, the Cinderella and her Fairy God Mother folk tale
came from Vietnam to Europe by fireside stories carried along China’s bygone
The only danger for me came from American Army officers trying to
use me in some hopeless WWII based scheme, which were countless in that utterly
different war. Late in my tour I chatted with a Black Panther Special Forces
NCO from Chicago, and persuaded him America needed a Black President. For amusements
I scootered around up in the hills on a trusty little Honda 90 in black pajamas:
to light to pop road mines, and to local looking to worry about getting shot
the Viet Cong. A few of my Special Forces buddies were outraged, but I just didn’t
care. We would soon lose in Vietnam, at which point it could go thermonuclear
worldwide. I met with friendly Viets all about, we usually had tea together,
and I always promised to return when all was over. “Would you like your
children to go to American Universities?” Piece of cake with the Viets back
A decade later I was in NYC when quietly slipped a train ticket
to Washington to meet a taxi. The taxi drove me to the Viet Vet Memorial design
competition where I was received as a VIP without explanation, and ushered through
a look see. Then to McLean, Virginia, told to go in a home’s front door, and
there sat Uncle Ed in his easy chair apologizing about “The girl.” “What girl?” “The girl in Phu Tuc, the one
you turned down.” “That girl?!” “Yes. The next guy disappeared, and spent four
years a POW. We got him home with ruined feet. Sorry ‘bout that. Teaches down
at NC State now” “Oh.”
The plan had been for me to be the White King of the Radé and
Jaré Montagnard mountain tribes with the village chief’s exquisitely eager
fourteen year old darkmoon-eyed butterscotch-skinned daughter my Princess, and I
was to lead them all out to defeating dastardly evil communizzm worldwide. Ed
had been screwed into it by higher ups in the Johnson administration. [Johnson
had destroyed Dad’s diplomatic career for briefing Ike and Jack we could not
win in Vietnam, studiously ignored Ed’s sage advice, my University Colo acceptance
and hoped for career had vanished, and into the Army to war I was ushered.] We
chatted for a while about old times. Charming Ole Uncle Ed! He was The Man. Then
“What did you think of the entries?” “They are all horrible,
bitter, blaming, self-centered, even hateful. They will all only just rub more
salt in the wound, every last one of them.”
long silence “What do you think
we should do?” I was shocked. That was a
huge national question of global political import. I subsided back in my chair,
and stared up at the blank ceiling, dazed and abstracted… Slowly it came…
…“Well, we are not able to heal the wound… we are just too immature a culture to
understand how to do it… It must come from an older and more experienced
culture… Not quite Europe… Too many
foolish wars… Asia… China…
Yes China… The wiser birthings of new dynasties after catastrophic failures…
An educated Chinese family that has experienced utter defeat, and recovered
well… A Chinese American family that
lost everything in the ’49 revolution, came here, and has done well… With a daughter that became their new dream
of hope for their family future… A girl of pure heart, a virgin who naturally knows
she is the new hope of family, and IS that quite happily… naturally, deeply, instinctively… who
studies Art, Architecture, Symbolism, Legends, History, Philosophy… An undistractedly kind female nerd… Not West
Coast.. Not central… East Coast…
Highly educated… Not Harvard, to
big, rich, corrupt… No… Yale… Yes Yale…
Architecture school, The Yale Architecture School Ed… Look There!… You find her Ed!” Suddenly I was angry. “Just get her down on
site like a normal class assignment, no fuss no muss… like turning loose a young deer into a
park… Then leave her alone… Wait till she comes back on her own… And she will!… Help her Ed, maybe without her even knowing
it”… I stood up exhausted and irate. We
stared into each other’s eyes. His jaw loosened slightly, eyes widening. We
understood each other. We were Old Hands, and I was HOT: “She’ll know what to do Ed, Because We Sure
As Hell Don’t!”
We lost 58,000 American, and 3,000,000 Vietnamese friends in
that unwise war. It could have exploded into a global thermonuclear war as the
Cuban Missile Crisis almost had save exactly
one (1) Russian submariner. We looked at each other silently. Old Hands. I went
out the door to the waiting taxi, back to NYC, and that was that.
Did The Job
Ed & Maya Lin!
& Uncle Bill Attending
Thank You Commander Vasili Alexandrovich
Hands Ed died in ’78, Dad in ‘91, Bill in ’96, and Vasili in ‘98
The Burning Man blog has a lengthy eulogy about Tom LaPorte aka “Lost Tom”, a captain of the media team who passed away last week. Our thoughts and prayers go to his family and friends, vale Lost Tom from Burners. We will pour one out for another fallen comrade.
There aren’t enough adjectives in the English language to describe Tom and the effect he had on everyone who had the privilege to know him: Loving, kind, passionate, selfless, inspirational, collaborator, confidant, innovator, gentleman, mentor, the real deal, a class act, community organizer extraordinaire, an embracer of the chaos, “a grown-up amongst us kids,” and, to everyone, a dear friend. He truly loved people, individually and collectively. He found the best in everyone — and touched everyone.
…Tom’s first year at the Burn was 2005 as a member of Bop Camp, a fun-loving crew of Chicago Burners that had somehow achieved Esplanade frontage offering an ungainly jousting experience utilizing motorcycle helmets and stuffed animals duct taped to PVC pipes. He dove in with gusto, cheering the burning of the Man dressed as the ace of spades, his first and only costume of choice.
According to Tom’s friends on Facebook, his first year at Burning Man was actually 2004.
He came up with the idea of broadcasting the BMIR radio station live from the Man base in 2009, the year he and his Chicago Crew took over Burners Without Borders camp and turned it into what it is today.
The playa was never big enough for what Tom had to offer. When participants left the event in 2005 to help communities ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, Tom followed. He immediately grasped how Burners could do work that matters not just in the desert but in the hearts of communities everywhere. In fact it was what he had been doing himself for years, bringing creativity to the streets of Chicago and creating unlikely connections.
Tom came back from Katrina and started promoting Burners Without Borders in Chicago, and suddenly all his projects became BWB projects. He was constantly pushing the boundaries of BWB. He initiated the Chicago takeover of BWB Campin 2009 and turned the camp into what it is today.
He also started the Music Box Project, his attempt at explaining “Cultural First Response” to the world. Musicians could become first responders themselves and give the art of healing through music in the hardest of times.
It doesn’t seem like anyone responded to the Cultural First Responder idea. I always thought Burners Without Borders was more about “send in DPW Heavy Machinery” than sending actual Burners in to, well, hang out and play guitar and stuff. Whatever it is we Burners do when in a group setting such as Burning Man, or the Standing Rock protests.
Coincidentally [ding], when Hurricane Katrina struck – being watched live via military satellite from the Playa – and Burners Without Borders was formed in response, Tom had gone to Burning Man to spend 2 weeks setting up an emergency broadcast system.
So his first second year at the Playa, he shows up with pre-recorded Public Service Announcements to hand out as part of a test of a pop-up emergency broadcast system in a place with no cell service. Because if it’s one thing everyone brings to Burning Man, it’s CD-ROM drives. This was an “art” project that several many people thought was worth spending 2+ weeks on. They tested it on Tuesday, Katrina hit on Thursday – and by Monday Tom was off to Katrina, large sum of money having been raised. Then he headed straight back to Chicago to found Burners Without Borders.
Where is that Emergency Public Service Announcement system today? Would’ve come in handy during last year’s false Amber Alert.
“Temporary art serves its purpose, it goes away and mankind goes onto the next step. It’s like a shooting star, it’s really beautiful, then it goes away, but the poetry doesn’t stop. We’ve found a way to achieve collective poetry, to achieve creativity in a group. It’s no longer the age of the lone genius working in isolation, waiting for the great discovery. It’s people working together, discovering stuff together, realizing what they have, taking time to celebrate it, but wondering what’s around the next bend.”
-Tom LaPorte (1953-2017)
Lost Tom died of heart failure, aged 63. He previously had a heart attack on the Playa.
Colleagues and friends are mourning the passing of Tom LaPorte, a versatile and innovative communicator over four decades throughout Chicago media. LaPorte, who was 63, died Wednesday of heart failure, according to multiple reports. He most recently served as Chicago’s assistant water commissioner and spokesman for the department. Before that he was webmaster for CBS Radio all-news WBBM AM 780, webmaster, editor and managing editor of former all-news WMAQ, and producer and news editor for news/talk WIND AM 560. LaPorte also headed media relations for Burning Man Project, a nonprofit arts and performance festival, and taught broadcasting and production at Columbia College Chicago. A graduate of Southern Illinois University and six-time Peter Lisagor Award winner, he began his radio career as public affairs director and news anchor at WCIL in Carbondale, Illinois.
Communications guru Tom LaPorte reveals the five steps of persuasion artists can use to win attention from collectors, the media, and the public. He also provides a plethora of other practical advice, from how to write a press release to how to incorporate video and live presentations into one’s marketing.
“Artists, by their natures, are often not drawn to aggressive self-promotion…. The ability to communicate through the conventional channels, to get your work known, to get yourself known as an artist and build your communities is something that takes a little bit of practice. Just as your art does.”
Tom LaPorte is a public relations and communications expert based in Chicago. LaPorte was born in Boston in 1953, and his family moved to Chicago in 1960. He earned a Associate of Arts degree in Speech Communication and Rhetoric from the College of DuPage in 1976, and Bachelor of Science in Speech Communications/Radio-TV from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale in 1979. LaPorte held positions in the radio industry for approximately twenty years, including as a writer, producer, and manager of a news room. In 1996 he began working with the Internet, spearheading an effort to audio stream that year’s Democratic National Convention. LaPorte worked as a writer, editor, and webmaster for WBBM-AM for several years before becoming Assistant Commissioner for the City of Chicago in public and media relations. He spent nearly thirteen years in the role before leaving to act as an independent consultant. Since 2004 LaPorte has also coordinated media relations for Burning Man, an annual festival which brings approximately 68,000 artist-attendees to the Nevada desert. Through the festival, LaPorte acts as a pro bono consultant for artists and creatives of all types.
Lost Tom was an Elf to his college roommate Jim Belushi’s Santa-con:
Long before his interest in Burning Man, Tom was already a Chicago legend. As Jim Belushi’s college roommate and partner in mischief, he went around to the Albanian homes in the suburbs dressed as “Frostbite the Elf” to Jim’s blotto Albanian Santa.
Tom encountered Abbie Hoffman of the Yippies (not Albert Hofmann of the Trippies) as a teen with a high school radio show, before rising up to use the infamous Chicago political machine as a force for good:
Tom embodied the best of Burning Man before he ever set foot on the playa. He was first and foremost a storyteller. Inspired by an interview he did with political and social activist Abbie Hoffman for his high school newspaper during the Chicago 7 trial, he pursued a career in journalism, working for some of the top Chicago media outlets, eventually working for the City of Chicago as Assistant Water Commissioner, where he honed his second strength — collaboration — working with residents, local businesses, community and church groups to leverage the infamous Chicago bureaucracy and political machinery for the forces of good. He always looked out for the less fortunate and those in need.
Lost Tom was involved with trippy visuals for the Grateful Dead and something called The Human Avatar Project:
Tom was a founding member of the Burning Man Chicago Steering Committee, which gave rise to the local Burner 501c3 Bold Urban Renaissance Network. He created and led art teams at the Rothbury and Electric Forest music festivals; Second Thoughts, which made videos that opened up for Bob Dylan and the Dead; The Human Avatar Project and Einstein Moments, which created participatory creativity games.
In Tom’s case I think it’s more likely they were talking about this art project:
Einstein is someone you should have Second Thoughts about for a moment. There are a couple of amazingly coincidental [ding ding] links between Einstein and the Sixties counter culture that spawned the Grateful Dead, as we explored in 50 Years of Flower Power. Wavy Gravy aka Hugh Romney used to take walks around the block with Einstein as a child; Ram Dass aka Richard Alpert’s father George founded the Albert Einstein College of Medicine…but that’s another story.
Lost Tom’s Einstein Moments was an Electric Forest art project, perhaps symbolic:
Sounds like Lost Tom was quite a character to be part of the Burning Man media team, rising in the ranks to Captain, and a pillar of the Chicago Burner community. Rest In Peace, or come back to be born into a new life and a better future. May your flame burn on forever.