Wednesday, April 30, 2008


ALBERT HOFMANN 1 January 1906 – 29 April 2008
(Source: Dean Becker's page)

When Albert Hofmann turned 100 - an occasion marked by a huge symposium in Basel - Craig S. Smith of the New York Times interviewed him at his 'modernist home on a grassy Alpine hilltop' about his life and times, including, most famously, his discovery of LSD and his first experiences with it April 1943.

He said of this: "Immediately, I recognised it as the same experience I had had as a child."

'As the years accumulate behind him, Mr. Hofmann's conversation turns ever more insistently around one theme: man's oneness with nature and the dangers of an increasing inattention to that fact.

"It's very, very dangerous to lose contact with living nature," he said, listing to the right in a green armchair that looked out over frost-dusted fields and snow-laced trees. A glass pitcher held a bouquet of roses on the coffee table before him. "In the big cities, there are people who have never seen living nature, all things are products of humans," he said. "The bigger the town, the less they see and understand nature." And, yes, he said, LSD, which he calls his "problem child," could help reconnect people to the universe.

'Rounding a century, Mr. Hofmann is physically reduced but mentally clear. He is prone to digressions, ambling with pleasure through memories of his boyhood, but his bright eyes flash with the recollection of a mystical experience he had on a forest path more than 90 years ago in the hills above Baden, Switzerland. The experience left him longing for a similar glimpse of what he calls "a miraculous, powerful, unfathomable reality."

"I was completely astonished by the beauty of nature," he said, laying a slightly gnarled finger alongside his nose, his longish white hair swept back from his temples and the crown of his head. He said any natural scientist who was not a mystic was not a real natural scientist. "Outside is pure energy and colorless substance," he said. "All of the rest happens through the mechanism of our senses. Our eyes see just a small fraction of the light in the world. It is a trick to make a colored world, which does not exist outside of human beings.

'He became particularly fascinated by the mechanisms through which plants turn sunlight into the building blocks for our own bodies. "Everything comes from the sun via the plant kingdom," he said.'

Full text here: Nearly 100, LSD's Father Ponders His 'Problem Child' Craig S. Smith [New York Times 7 Jan 2006]

Source: The old Grow-A-Brain Albert Hofmann collection

An excellent report on the Basel conference: 'LSD: Problem Child and Wonder Drug', an International Symposium on the Occasion of the 100th Birthday of Albert Hofmann.

'During a press conference on Friday, Hofmann revealed that he was told by Nobel-prize- winning chemist Kary Mullis that LSD had helped him develop the polymerase chain reaction that helps amplify specific DNA sequences.

'In his presentation, artist Alex Grey noted that Nobel-prize-winner Francis Crick, discoverer of the double helical structure of DNA, also told friends he received inspiration for his ideas from LSD, according to news reports.

'The gathering included a discussion of how early computer pioneers used LSD for inspiration. Douglas Englebart, the inventor of the mouse, Myron Stolaroff, a former Ampex engineer and LSD researcher who was attending the symposium, and Apple-cofounder Steve Jobs were among them. In the 2005 book What the Dormouse Said, New York Times reporter John Markoff quotes Jobs describing his LSD experience as "one of the two or three most important things he has done in his life." [see link below]

'Asked if the world needs his invention, Hofmann said he hoped that the Basel LSD symposium would help create an appropriate place for LSD in society.

"I think that in human evolution it has never been as necessary to have this substance LSD," said Hofmann. "It is just a tool to turn us into what we are supposed to be."

Full text here: LSD: The Geek's Wonder Drug?' by Ann Harrison [Wired. 16 June 2006]

Collage of LSD blotter art. Text and image from this great Neurophilosophy blog

Erika Dyck, a professor of medical history at the University of Alberta, investigated the work of a pioneering group of Canadian psychiatrists who in the 1950s and 60s used LSD to treat alcoholic patients. She has uncovered research papers describing studies in which single doses of the hallucinogenic drug were an effective effective treatment for alcoholism, and has interviewed patients who participated in the clinical trials documented in the papers.

{Her findings were published here: ‘Hitting Highs at Rock Bottom’: LSD Treatment for Alcoholism, 1950–1970 Dyck Soc Hist Med.2006; 19: 313-329

Some of the papers found by Dyck were authored by Humphry Osmond, the controversial British psychiatrist who first used the term ‘psychedelic’ at a meeting of the New York Academy of Sciences in the early 1950s, and who gave Aldous Huxley the dose of mescaline which gave the writer the inspiration for his book The Doors of Perception.

In one of the studies, conducted in 1962, 65% of alcoholic patients given a single dose of LSD stopped drinking for at least one-and-a-half years, compared to 25% of control patients who received group therapy and 12% of another control group given traditional forms of therapy which were popular at the time.

“The LSD somehow gave these people experiences that psychologically took them outside of themselves and allowed them to see their own unhealthy behavior more objectively, and then determine to change it,” says Dyck. “[It] appeared to allow the patients to go through a spiritual journey that ultimately empowered them to heal themselves, and that’s really quite an amazing therapy regimen.”

'Most of the studies uncovered by Dyck were later discredited because they did not involve randomized, controlled clinical trials. Nevertheless, Dyck says that the use of LSD was not, as many people believe, on the fringes of biomedical research but instead was a legitimate branch of psychiatry which was promising and encouraging. She says that the use of LSD by members of the anti-war counterculture in the 1960s, and its subsequent criminalization by the government made research into its effects unpopular. This glut in research into psychotomimetic drugs lasted for decades, and it is only recently that biomedical research into LSD and related substances has resumed.'

See related story: LSD May Shed Hippie Image With Swiss Medical Study (Update1) by Dermot Doherty [Bloomberg. 1 May 2008]


See: THE VAULT OF ALBERT HOFFMAN. Probably the best single resource site for Albert Hofmann on the web, part of the atonishing Erowid site

The entire text of Hoffman's memoir 'LSD: My Problem Child' is on line at the Psychedelic Library. See Chapter 8 about his meeting with Aldous Huxley.

Trip of a lifetime: How LSD rocked the world:It's the psychedelic drug that inspired Hendrix and The Beatles - and shaped the music, art and literature of a generation. As the world bids farewell to the bicycling Swiss chemist who created LSD, John Walsh explores his mind-altering legacy. The Independent 1 May 2008

LSD is the latest trend in Lebanon's drug scene by Hala Alyan. [Ya Libnan 9 May 2008]
'LSD has not so much flooded the mainstream drug market in Beirut as quietly become accessible to choice participants, mostly university students between the ages of 17 and 22.

'Rolling a cigarette as she spoke, the girl said that when she takes acid with her group, it feels like they are "in the Sixties, like we're starting our own revolution." She's happy to keep Beirut's new wealth of LSD under the radar. "All the people who want to take tabs and go clubbing just don't understand it."


HARVEY MATUSOW 3: 1960-1966



What the Dormouse Said: Counter-Culture and Computing


As is becoming traditional at The Generalist: a review of the annual 'Green Issue' of Vanity Fair, an interesting mainstream barometer of front-running concerns and issues, containing the following pieces:

'Industrial Revolution: Take Two' a profile of William McDonough, by Matt Tyrnauer. This is the most extensive piece I have yet seen in print on McDonough, an extremely influential and important figure in the new industrial revolution of green, energy efficient, low carbon technologies.

His ideas are captured in an important book 'Crade to Cradle: Remaking The Way We Make Things', written with Michael Braungart. [North Point Press. 2002], which is, incidentally, manufactured from fully-recyclable plastic resins.

The book's central premise is the idea of "planned nonobsolescence": all things manufactured should be designed from the outset with the intention that they will eventually be recycled, either back to the soil, harmlessly, or into some other product. In their world WASTE EQUALS FOOD.

McDonough is an American architect who was born in Tokyo and grew up in Hong Kong, Canada and the US; Braungart is a German chemist who was a founder member of the Green Party. Their company advises corporations and governments how to implement "cradle to cradle solutions" and are currently designing master plans for the development of seven Chinese cities. Their alluring vision is of cities which are like dense "forests" 'with each building supporting - literally - farmland made of native soil. McDonough has lifted up the earth and put it several stories above the streets.'

"China is going to house 400 million people in the next 12 years, so imagine that," says McDonough. "You know, it's like rebuilding the entire United States in seven years - all the housing here. They've made brick illegal in 174 jurisdictions, because they're afraid of losing all their soil and burning all their coal making brick. So we have to look at new materials; we have to look at new startegies.

[The majority of quotes and ideas in the article you will also find in the video of McDonough's stirring presentation at the 2005 TED (Technology Education Design) conference, a wonderful source of fresh thinking and new ideas]

McDonough and Braungart were selected as one of the 'Heroes of the Environment' in Time magazine's special issue [Oct 29 2007] which is now online.

This issue of Vanity Fair also carries a piece on the greenest museum ever built - the new California Academy of Sciences building in Golden Gate Park - designed by Renzo Piano. It has a 2 1/2 acre living roof and will open on Sept 27, 2008.

Monsanto's Harvest of Fear by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele is a first-rate piece of extensive investigative journalism into the venal behaviour of one of the world's most rapacious corporations, who are buying up the world's seed banks and trying to control the world's food supply. They have undercover teams harassing farmers across America. This is essential reading. For those only familiar with the GM activities of Monsanto, this article will bring you up to speed on Monsanto's dark history.

Founded in 1901 by John Francis Queeny, 'a tough cigar-smoking Irishman with a sixth-grade education', who began by manufacturing saccharin, the nascent enterprise was kept afloat by one loyal customer - a new company in Georgia called Coca Cola. Monsanto then began manufacturing vanilla, caffeine, drugs used as sedatives and laxatives and, in 1917, started making asprin and soon became the largest maker worldwide. When World War I cut off its supply of Europedan chemicals, the company began manufacturing its own and became a leading force in the chemical industry as a result.

Queeny's only son Edgar took over the company in the 1920s and he expanded it into a global powerhouse producing a huge number of products including fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides. 'For many years Monsanto produced two of the most toxic substances ever known - polychlorinated biphenyls, better known as PCBs, and dioxin. Monsanto no longer produces either, but the places where it did are struggling with the aftermath, and probably always will be.'

One example of their plant in Nitro, West Virginia, which ran from 1929-1995. In 1948 the company began to make here 2,4,5-T, a powerful herbicide which creating dioxin as a by-product. On March 8th, 1949, a container cooking upa batch of the herbicide exploded. Court records indicate that 226 plant workers became ill as a result. In the 1960s, the plant went on to produce Agent Orange, 'the powerful herbicide which the US military used to defoliate jungles during the Vietnam War, and which later was the focus of lawsuits by veterans contending that they had been harmed by exposure.' See extensive Wikipedia article here.

Stealing Weather by William Langewiesche is an extraordinarily interesting piece on weather modification, both the history of the subject and the extensive use to which the Chinese are now putting it.

According to the Chinese Meteorological Administration (CMA), local weather- modification offices all over this vast country now have 39,000 field operatives, equipped with 7,113 anti-aircraft cannons and 4,991 truck-mounted rocket launchers.

'In 2006 they fired a million rounds at the weather, and launched 80,000 rockets. For the most ambitious efforts, they had access to 35 specially equipped airplanes, which that same year flew 590 sorties, dispensing 26,158 pounds off dry ice, 1,487 pounds of silver iodide, and 2,300 gallons of liquid nitrogen. All together the operators claimed to have covered more than a third of China's landmass, excluding Taiwan.'

See also: China Leads Weather Control Race by Brandon Keim. Wired. November 14, 2007

[Always found it fascinating that Kurt Vonnegut's brother Bernard, was a cloud-seeding pioneer who worked at General Electric alongside Vincent Schaefer and Irving Langmuir, from whom the initial idea came that led to Kurt's novel 'Cat's Cradle'. 'Vonnegut came across a story of how Langmuir, who won the 1932 Nobel Prize for his work at General Electric, was charged with the responsibility of entertaining the author H.G. Wells, who was visiting the company in the early 1930s. Langmuir is said to have come up with an idea about a form of solid water that was stable at room temperature in the hopes that Wells might be inspired to write a story about it. Apparently, Wells was not inspired and neither he nor Langmuir ever published anything about it. After Langmuir and Wells had died, Vonnegut decided to use the idea in his book Cat's Cradle' [See complete Wikipedia entry here]

Also two excellent articles on the moves by Russia and the US to exploit energy reserves in the Arctic: The Arctic Oil Rush by Alex Shoumatoff ('If Russia starts tapping the Arctic deposits, it jmay become the world's dominant energy supplier') and The Edge of Extinction by Michael Shnayerson (a recent $2.66 billion oil-and gas drilling lease sale will further doom the US polar bear).

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Interview with filmmaker Grant Gee about 'Joy Division: The Movie' which is due to go on general release in May.

Grant's work is consistently interesting and innovative and includes a number of experimental works, a huge back catalogue of pop videos and the standout Radiohead documentary 'Meeting People Is Easy'. He was also Director of Photography on 'Scott Walker: 30 Century Man'.

Read my excited early review of the film from December 2007: JOY DIVISION: THE DOCUMENTARY

Named Observer Film of The Week and reviewed by Phillip French
See: Unknown Pleasures by Jon Savage in The Observer
See: Controlled Chaos: From Dostoevsky to Burroughs to pulp sci-fi, Ian Curtis devoured offbeat literature. Jon Savage, writer of a new film about Joy Division, explores the impact of the front man's reading on the band's lyrics

It is a year since the Harveys was restored to our local pub the Lewes Arms which meant that Saturday April 26th was a day of much mayhem and madness, including a beer race and torchlit march. See the latest photos on my Lewes Arms blog, which provides a detailed account of a campaign that is probably the biggest pub protest in British history. There is now a full-page on Wikipedia documenting the dispute. Thanks to whoever put it up there.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Harvey Matusow

October 3, 1926 – January 17, 2002


Early last week, I was a guest of the ladies in charge of the Special Collections of Sussex University Library. A discussion is going on between us about the future of my own HQ INFO Archive and broader issues. You can access their Special Collections catalogue here. Of immediate interest to me was the fact that they house, alongside the world-famous Mass Observations Archive and a substantial Bloomsbury collection, the personal archive of Harvey Matusow – a man whose name was familiar to me and someone who I believe I met in London in the early ‘70s. He was certainly a counter-culture figure of note. I browsed though his books and became very curious to find out more about the man. Coverage of his life and times is scattered across the Internet so am attempting here to bring together what biographical details exists in a compact form to provide a clearer, richer and more coherent picture of the long and diverse life of the “trickster” figure that was Harvey Matusow. It’s an extraordinary story that deserves to be more widely known.



‘I was born and brought up in The Bronx in its more gentle and energetic years. It was The Bronx in transition from a rural farming area to 45 square miles of high-rise city. The money that passed hands and the deals which were made in 1926 in The Bronx probably created the most powerful political machine in The United States. It was the Bronx machine that got Al Smith the Democratic nomination for President in 1928, and it was The Bronx that gave us Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932. I watched my father use the machine, a phone call here, a phone call there, and suddenly the laws and the rules vanished. Everyone and everything seemed to have a price tag. By the time I was ten, I could steal your purse or pick your pocket on the subway, and you'd never know it. The streets were the jungle, a more gentle jungle than today, but, a jungle nevertheless. You learned it's sounds, it's smells as well as every crack in the cement side walks. It was all busy detail, filing everything away for some future unseen unexpected confrontation or crisis. Always shooting angles, the ricochet life style of a city kid.’

His parents Sylvia (nicknamed “Kitty”) and his father Herman had both arrived separately in the United States in 1906. Kitty was an observant Orthodox Jew; Herman a ‘short, well-dressed man [who] possessed a hair-trigger temper, a good sense of humour, and a passion for playing cards.'

‘He worked as a singing waiter in Coney Island [with Jimmy Durante, says Wikipedia] and, during World War 1, served as a quartermaster sergeant in the US Army. During the 1920s, he built a chain of cigar stores in good Manhattan locations…but he lost everything in the 1929 crash. “During the depression,” Harvey recalled, “Herman’s card earnings kept us alive.”

Harvey had one sibling, his brother Danny, three-and-a half years older, his best friend protector and hero, with whom he shared a bedroom… Both brothers attended Bronx public schools. But Harvey, despite his quick intelligence, proved a consistently poor student, a circumstance he later attributed to dyslexia (a condition largely unknown at the time).

‘He did develop “street smarts.” At the twelve, he went to work in the neighbourhood for Phil the Bookie. As a messenger and gofer, he saw bribes given to police officers and drew the lesson that government was corrupt.'

In August 1942, Danny enlisted in the Army Air Force and was called to active duty in March 1943 and sent to England. Harvey joined the army in November 1943. In deptember 1944, Danny was reported missing in action after his B-17 aircraft was lost in a daylight bombing raid over Nuremburg. Harvey was called to active duty on October 31, 1944, trained as a rifleman and sent to Europe, where he saw a minimum of combat. On V-E Day in the spring of 1945 he was in Paris and was then assigned to a US-sponsored college in Biarritz where he worked as a photographer for an army public relations unit.

In 1946 he was transferred in Mainz where he worked interrogating German prisoners. One prisoner, who had kept a detailed diary and map, enabled him to locate his brother’s burial site in a church cemetery in a suburb of Nuremburg. (His brother was later reburied in a military cemetery in France.)

He was ordered to return to the US in July and discharged from the Army on August 3, 1946.

Lichtman, Robert M. and Cohen, Ronald (2004). Deadly Farce: Harvey Matusow and the Informer System in the McCarthy Era. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0252028864.

Kahn, Albert Eugene (1987). The Matusow Affair: Memoir of a National Scandal. Moyer Bell Ltd. ISBN 0918825857.

Matusow, Harvey (1955). False Witness. Cameron & Kahn.

Italic quotes from ‘Stringless Yo-Yo’, Matusow’s title for his unfinished autobiography, sections of which are available on the web.

HARVEY MATUSOW 2: 1946-1960

Harvey Matusow

‘Matusow did time for telling the truth about having lied'
Emile de Antonio, filmmaker.

'Back in New York after the war, he worked various jobs (including as an agent for Dean Martin) while he drifted towards Greenwich Village hootenannies, the folk music revival and the American Communist Party.' WNFU's Beware of the Blog

His first introduction to the political left came in November 1946 when he was invited to a neighbourhood party for members of the American Youth for Democracy (AYD), which a year later would be listed as a Communist front. He enjoyed the camaraderie and the folk, union and protest songs he heard sung. He joined AYD and became the club’s education and social director. [Lichtman]

‘It didn't take long before I joined the A.Y.D., went to meetings, got petitions signed…The fear and hysteria of McCarthyism hadn't begun, nor had the Cold War moved into top-gear. Communists, communism didn't frighten me or generate any feelings of hate in me. Just fought a war allied with them. Met quite a few of them in France. They were all anti-Fascists and fought and died. Didn't understand much of what they were about, but those who I'd met, I liked. I was hungry and hooked, wanting to explore this world, to relate to and try to better understand these people. It wasn't difficult at all for me to get involved in the Left Wing. American Youth for Democracy - what could be nicer than that?’

1949-51: ‘Was part of the folk music revival of the 40s. Was a Broadway agent, worked for the agency that handled Dean Martin before he joined Jerry Lewis. As a hopeful comic, lived the night club life…Won subscription drive for Daily Worker and got free trip to Puerto Rico…met and married Kay, a working journalist for the Black newspaper The Amsterdam News’.

‘By 1950, he either sensed an opportunity for money and fame, or (according to him) needed to protect his own ass, so he contacted the FBI and began his four year long career as a paid informer for anyone in need of an anti-Communist accuser with bona fide red street cred… [he] ultimately destroyed the lives of hundreds of innocent Americans, communists and non-communists alike.’ WNFU's Beware of the Blog

1950-52: Contacted the FBI and became an informer. The Korean War began. Kay and I separated and I left New York heading for San Francisco…[but] truck broke down in Taos, New Mexico, Went to art school, ran local pool hall, became gofer for Mable Dodge and Freida Lawrence. Got called to active duty in Air Force.

1951-53: The McCarthy years. Worked my way out of US Air Force into a job as an investigator for The Ohio Un-American Activities Committee. Became the ‘darling of the Hearst press, the China lobby, the Justice Department and Congressional Committees on both the House and Senate side. Spied on trade unions. Left Ohio and became assistant editor of ‘Counterattack’, the blacklisting newsletter that also created the blacklist bible ‘Red Channels’. Involved in actors clearances in New York and Hollywood.

In 1952, went to work for Senator McCarthy…After election, went to work for [him] with specific purpose to help undermine public trust in the New York Times.

[He] once reported that 126 Communists worked in the Sunday Department of the New York Times even though the total number of employees was 100. [Wikipedia]

In 1952 he went to work for Senator Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn who put him on their payroll and encouraged his tendency to create lists of communists out of thin air. Among Matusow's targets during this period of time were The New York Times and The Girl Scouts.
WNFU's Beware of the Blog

1953-54: Married and divorced twice to McCarthy financial supporter, Arvilla Peterson Bentley. Moved into her large mansion [in Washington DC]. Suddenly find myself, a high school drop-out, in a large mansion with an upstairs maid, a housekeeper, a cook, a butler/chauffeur, a gardener, a part time laundress. It was a madness out of my league, caught up in the power vortex of America. That was the insanity of it all.

1954: Returned to New York where I buried myself in writing poetry, doing some off Broadway Theatre, and some up-tight, sometimes feeble, attempts at stand-up comedy…Did some radio and realized that I was now blacklisted, and found it almost impossible to find theatre work…Was baptised in Mormon Church (Oct. 1, 1954). Attempts to get book, ‘Blacklisting Was My Business’, published.

1954-1955: I received a message from and called Albert Kahn of the book publishing firm of Cameron & Kahn. They had heard about the book I was writing, and seemed interested in publishing it. Returned to New York, immersed myself in a Greenwich Village apartment. Wrote the book ‘False Witness’, recanted my testimony, and was overwhelmed beyond any expectation of the results of my recantation and the book. I was alone like I had never known aloneness…Estranged from most of my family (except my mother and father), and perhaps eight of my forty-two uncles and aunts. Conflict and question, "Why did I do it?" (I am amazed now that I am still alive, for I fully expected to be shot dead every day of that period.)

1954-1956: I was in such disrepute, I stopped going to Mormon Church. Was afraid to test them on forgiveness…Started to hang around my old Greenwich Village haunts: The White Horse, Louie's, and the Limelight Coffee House. Met and married third wife, Ellen Raskin… an artist doing book and record jackets and illustrations…Employment was difficult. I would get job and lose it within days. Started selling Book of Knowledge. Sold my first to unemployed actor [Jason Robards].

In 1954, either because he felt remorse over the destruction he caused, or because he sensed another quick buck, he came clean on his years of lying and perjury with his book False Witness. In it, he truthfully accused Cohn and McCarthy of keeping him on the payroll as a paid witness and a professional liar. For once, Matusow was telling the truth, but Roy Cohn didn't see it that way. Cohn accused him of lying in the book, and in the ensuing trial, Matusow was convicted of perjury and sentenced to five years in prison... As a professional liar, Matusow had been the toast of the town, but for finally telling the truth, he was imprisoned. It was then that he was dubbed "The Most Hated Man in America" by The National Enquirer, The Baltimore Sun and other papers. WNFU's Beware of the Blog

1956-1957: Trial in New York Federal Court. My word against Roy Cohn. Convicted and sentenced to five years in Federal Prison for saying that Cohn, when he was Assistant U.S. Attorney, had suborned perjury. The irony of it all was that I had committed countless acts of perjury, and the government tried and convicted me of telling the truth. Sent to prison. Made bail after three months in the Federal Penitentiary at Lewisburg, Pa. Ellen and I ended two-year marriage. My father died.

[April 1st 1957]: Met fourth wife, Beatrice Swope Lysander. She was the best writer I have ever known. She was hanging out at Louis' Tavern, under The Circle In The Square Theatre, and was with our mutual friend, Steve McQueen. Steve and Lee Marvin and I used to deliver TV sets for Jerry Francis from his shop on west 10th street…Bea was also a "den mother" to many of the Village poets of the Beat Generation (Howard Hart, Sy Krim, Jack Micheline and a few others).

It was 1957, and the Warren Supreme Court, using me as a prime reason, upset almost every rule and law that the government was using to persecute the left. They refused to grant me a hearing on appeal, and I went back to prison.

On the eve of my return to prison, Bea and I went to see the Henry Fonda movie, Twelve Angry Men, and after the movie went to have a farewell party at the journalist Bill Dufty's house. Bill and his wife Maley, and the singer Billie Holiday threw a farewell party. Billie and I shared notes about Federal prisons. [Bea, Bill & I] went to the Federal Court House where I surrendered to the U.S. Marshall, and went off to prison.

1956-1960: General reflection on prison life. My work in the athletic department. Captain of the tennis team and the volley ball team. I treated prison like the university I never attended. I devoured books, attended lectures given by Bucknell University professors, painted over 200 canvases. Produced and directed four plays: ‘Stalag 17’, ‘Waiting for Godot’, ‘Mr. Roberts’, and ‘Arsenic & Old Lace’(with two Mafia types playing the old ladies). Reflections also on Frank Costello, the so-called head of the "Mafia", who I got to know well while at Lewisburg, and who I got to see after release in New York.

1956-1960: The day Wilhelm Reich died he was in the next cell…In the general population he was known as "The Sex Box Man", and the folk tales regarding his orgone box were more then surreal.

Sources: Italic quotes and bold chronological entries: from the ‘Stringless Yo-Yo’. Chronological entries edited to correct mistypings and misspellings, to shorten it and, in some cases, to make it read more fluently. Other sources indicated.

HARVEY MATUSOW 3: 1960-1966

Harvey Matusow

1960-1963: Rebirth, out of prison. Life exciting, trying to make up for the years I'd been away. My Generation, the Beat Generation, had made it and I wasn't there…The fact that in prison I had done poetry and jazz with some of the best jazz musicians in the country didn't seem to carry any weight with me. Bea's seventy year old mother, Mary Morrison, was bringing me beat poetry from City Lights Bookstore in her native San Francisco. … Found work as book designer and Art Director for scientific publishing house, Academic Press. Used my position as art director to buy printing from Alger Hiss… Never thought him guilty, and told him so. He accepted a dinner invitation from Bea, and we had a great evening sharing Lewisburg and McCarthy experiences. It was during this period that the seeds were sown for the undercurrent of my life's work: serving those in prison and those facing prison, and those trying to survive after release. With a few others, organized Jailhouse Anonymous - a quiet, one-on-one service organization which takes no money for services.

1963-1966: The Art World. With friend Bill Dufty we founded monthly art magazine, ‘The New York Arts Calendar’, [which we] continued to publish for three years. Immersed in the glitter and glamour of the fine art world, and discovered it has as many morality glitches as the streets and politics, and in many ways it seems to have more corruption - too much big money involved. Wrote, edited and published fine art book, ‘The Art Collector’s Almanac’. It got me an invite to Lyndon Johnson's White House…Attempted to get a passport so as to travel to Europe on art-related business, but the State Department said no. Called Abe Fortas… one of the first to read the galley proofs on ‘False Witness’ prior to its publication [and he] got the State Department to back down.

Both the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations turned down my proposal for help in completing a history of art exhibition - the follow-through of the already published volume - and said that they would underwrite it if I were to withdraw from the project. I became angry and destructive. I convinced myself that regardless of what I did or might accomplish, society would never forgive me for my role in McCarthyism. My bitterest act, greater than any I had ever known. I took all the research I had collected, and rented a fishing boat at Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn. Went out into the ocean and dumped it all: catalogues, photos, slides. To this day, the greatest regret of my life.

1965: My perception of a Christian society unable to forgive propelled me deeper into the counter culture of the 60's and 70's. Was deeply involved in the first "Underground" newspaper, ‘The East Village Other (EVO)’.Discovered Tim Leary and legal LSD, began taking trips and wandering into the unknown. In order to punish the United Fruit Company, helped create the hype that smoking banana peels would get you high.

'Will bananas get you high? Of course not. The whole thing was a hoax first publicized in the Berkeley Barb in March 1967. The wire services, and after them the whole country, fell for it hook, line, and roach clip. "Smokeouts" were held at Berkeley. The following Easter Sunday, the New York Times reported, "beatniks and students chanted 'banana-banana' at a 'be-in' in Central Park" and paraded around carrying a two-foot wooden banana. The Food and Drug Administration announced it was investigating "the possible hallucinogenic effects of banana peels."

'The outcome of the FDA study I have not been able to discover. However, in November 1967 researchers at New York University reported that a chemical analysis of banana peel had found no intoxicating chemicals and that the high was mainly psychological. It was obvious at the time, at least to some of us, that the whole thing was a put-on. I'll bet even the pranksters at the Barb didn't expect suckers to be falling for it 35 years later.'

Source: The Straight Dope

1965-1966: Bea and I separated… Norman Mailer and I to get to know one another. I had met him at Sy Krim's 40th Birthday party. Liked him, trusted his non-Christian soul. He had a directness and clarity which made me comfortable. When he ran for Mayor of New York a few years later, I co-chaired the Norman Mailer for Mayor Committee in London which was called The Mailer Mafia Snow Removal Trust. We had a big London bash to raise funds, and got Christine Keeler of Profumo fame to auction her bra.

Reconnected with Bobby Kennedy, who I hadn't seen since McCarthy Committee days. LSD still legal, and arranged for Kennedy to get acid for trip prior to his holding hearings on subject. He wanted to know what it was, etc. Connected thru Walter Bowart of EVO, also we gathered much information for the Committee regarding youth and drugs etc.

‘We talked for several hours in his Central Park West apartment one morning in late 1966 or 1967. I was working on a study of LSD users and he was then proselytizing for acid with the same religious fervor he’d sold subscriptions to The Daily Worker in his Communist days, had been an anti-Communist in his informer days, and then an anti-anti-Communist in his post-informer days.

‘That afternoon, I described the encounter to Irwin Silber, editor of Sing Out! magazine. “Do I know him?” Irwin yelled, even though it was just two of us in the room “That sonofabitch turned me in!”

‘Later that day, I saw a musician friend, Hedy West, and I told her about the coincidence of my morning meeting with Matusow and Silber’s having been one of his victims. “Harvey Matusow turned my father in,” Hedy said."He testified that my father was organizing Communist Boy Scout troops in Georgia. They’d never met, but that didn’t matter to Matusow or the people he was working for. My father’s response was, ‘Where I was in Georgia, 12-year-old boys weren’t playing Boy Scout; they were working in the mines.’”

- Bruce Jackson: ‘Harvey Matusow: Death of A Snitch’
The main part of the article is an interview with filmmaker Emile de Antonio whose ‘Point of Order’ is considered the best documentary on McCarthy.


Also began working with Deputy Mayor Marcus of New York, working on the problems of runaway teenagers, who we started to call Hippies who were flooding the streets of Greenwich Village. Set up a hot line with others to deal with people who were having bad acid trips.

1964-1966: Following my "normal" life pattern of when in doubt, when at the emotional bottom, laugh your way back to balance. During my witness days I always had an outlet in night clubs doing sleezy stand-up comedy. Now did it again four to five nights a week on MacDougall street in the Village. Spent a lot of time with Dick Gregory, and many lonely nights at The Improv.

Reconnect with Andy Warhol, who I hadn't seen since pre-prison days when I was married to Ellen, and with him almost pulled off a hype on David Suskind. Suskind was doing a TV special on Beatnik artists. Using a Russian accent, from Andy's phone, I convinced Suskind that I was a Russian poet. Would have made the programme, but, one of the group who was in on the hype couldn't contain the secret [and] Suskind found out.

Started to make films. Worked with Yoko and her husband Tony Cox and film maker Peter Goldman and Emile d'Antonio. Worked with d'Antonio and Mark Lane and helped him mimeograph his book on Kennedy assassination [but] no one wanted to publish it.

Lane and d'Antonio invited me to a party in Great Neck, New York. Pete Seeger was the main attraction for this fund raiser for some decent humanitarian planetary cause. I was bored and tired of the rejection, and was reluctant to go. Mark and d'Antonio convinced me that it would be alright. I had not seen Pete Seeger since the McCarthy days, when I was the main cause of his blacklisting. I had no desire to confront him, but, I put my guard down and went. Pete was gracious, loving and forgiving. His wife was not, nor were most of the guests, who were horrified at my presence. The final straw, I left the USA, vowing "never to return."

Sources: Italic quotes and chronological entries: from the ‘Stringless Yo-Yo’. Chronological entries edited to correct mistypings and, in some cases, to make it read more fluently.


While working as an informant, Matusow provided information against folksingers. Pete Seeger's band the Weavers [who] went from a hit record with ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ to being blacklisted and finding no work. Seeger later went to prison over his testimonies in the HUAC related witch-hunts but also forgave Matusow for his youthful mistakes and noted that Harvey never did more than cost Seeger a few jobs. ("The Lion Sleeps Tonight" was known at the time as "Wimoweh." Pete Seeger did not go to jail, though he was convicted for Contempt of Congress and issued a jail sentence.) [Wikipedia]

'[He] became a member of the Weavers, whose version of "Goodnight Irene," by Leadbelly, was, for thirteen weeks in 1950, the best-selling record in America. The Weavers quit playing in 1952, after an informant told the House Un-American Activities Committee that three of the four Weavers, including Seeger, were Communists. (Seeger knew students at Harvard who were Communists and, with the idea in mind of a more equitable world, he eventually became one himself.) Following the informant's testimony, the Weavers found fewer and fewer places to work.' [Source: ‘The Protest Singer: Pete Seeger and American folk music’ by Alec Wilkinson [The New Yorker 17th April 2006]

HARVEY MATUSOW 4: 1966-1972

See the wonderful Phil Franks digital archive here. Contains great material from the 1960s and 1970s, including a lot of stuff on the British underground newspaper Frendz, on which I also worked later on. Phil's work is outstanding and now provides a valuable cultural record of that period.
Harvey Matusow

1966-1967: Arrived in England in May 1966. Found a whole new life with much less pressure in London. The "Counter Culture" there was real and to me had more meaning.

Within a month I organized and became Chairman of The London Film Makers Co-Op, and organized the first underground film festivals in London. Became a moving force in founding England's first underground newspaper, IT.

Stephen Dwoskin, born in New York on 15 January 1939, is one of the most visually rich and emotionally intense filmmakers in British cinema...In 1964 he moved to London on a Fulbright Fellowship to research British design, and in 1966 set up the London Film Makers Co-op with two other New Yorkers, Andy Meyer and Simon Hartog. [Full text here] See also: 'Shoot Shoot Shoot. The First Decade of the London Film-Makers’ Co-operative & British Avant-Garde Film 1966-76. '[Full text here]

Matusow had nothing to do with the founding of International Times, according to Jim Haynes and Miles, who were two of the founders. [see exchange of letters here]

Met and fell in love with and married Anna Lockwood, an avant garde composer from New Zealand. We become a team and did concerts and theatre pieces in London, Liverpool, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Stockholm, Oslo, Australia, New Zealand and the USA.

Wrote to Yoko and Tony [Cox] and suggested that they come to London which they did, and Yoko met John etc…

This seems unlikely. On the official ONO website it says: 'In 1966 she was invited to London to participate in a Destruction In Art symposium (DIAS).' Barry Miles in his book 'In The Sixties' says this was staged 31st August-30th Dec 1966 in London and was organised by Gustav Metzger and John Sharkey. He writes:'Mario Amya, the editor of Art and Artists, paid for Yoko Ono to attend, and she arrived with her husband, the annoyingly loud Tony Cox and their baby Kyoto.' After her performance, she was invited by John Dunbar to stage a show at the Indica Gallery, previewed at a private party on 8th November, which is where she first met John Lennon.[Wikipedia says this was in 1965 and was a Fluxus event. Both facts are certainly wrong.]

Did films, happenings, wrote much, did radio and TV, managed Jazz Club in Soho (Ronnie Scott's Old Place).

1968-1972: Worked as an independent for the BBC [and produced] 16 radio documentaries, and much TV, comedy and news and current affairs. Become one of editors of ‘The American’, a weekly in London for the American community.

Put out my first album, ‘Harvey Matusow Jew's Harp Band’.

The first realease was 'Afghan Red' a single on Head Records (1969) followed by a classic album: 'The War Between the Fats and the Thins' (1969). MP3 downloads of this album can be found here. See also: Play It Again Max

Organized International Society for Abolition of Data Processing Machines and wrote and published my third book, ‘The Beast of Business: A Record of Computer Atrocities’. Time magazine did a piece on the Society and that got me an invitation to come to the States and do a gig on the Mike Douglas Show.

According to Time magazine (Sept 12th 1969): 'Matusow now lives and plots in London. He is the self-appointed president of the International Society for the Abolition of Data Processing Machines, which claims 1,500 members. Like Matusow, they look on the computer as an exploitative monster that has turned on its creator. Members receive, free of charge, an I.S.A.D.P.M. identification card decorated with a red slingshot, symbolic of David's battle with Goliath. They also get a year's subscription to Matusow's anticomputer newsletter, which he plans to start publishing soon. For 6s., they can get a copy of his 125-page 'The Beast of Business', a handbook of guerrilla tactics for computer haters that might have been conceived by Che Guevara.' Full article here

Matusow showed his lighter side in the early 1970s when he became involved in the design, manufacture and sale of a toy called the “Stringless Yoyo”. He would later name his unfinished autobiography after this toy. [Source]

Organized ICES-72, the largest avant garde new musical festival ever done. Spent the better part of 1971 and 1972 pulling it all together. When completed, returned to the USA with Anna.

'The International Carnival of Experimental Sound, or ICES '72 for short, was an ambitious festival sprung from the mind of Harvey "Job" Matusow (1926-2002). Jumping off from his associations with Source magazine, Harvey brought together over 300 artists from over 21
countries to perform in London, England over the course of two weeks in August of 1972.' [See:
ICES 72 concert]

'The event's highlights included performances by Charlotte Moorman (in the Roundhouse and in the Richard Demarco Gallery in Edinburgh) and John Cage's HPSCHD, for eight harpsichords and projections of the American space programme. A train was hired to take participants and public to Edinburgh, to link with the Edinburgh festival; Charlotte Moorman performed Nam June Paik's TV Bra in the Richard Demarco Gallery.' [Wikipedia]

Sources: Chronological entries: from the ‘Stringless Yo-Yo’. edited to shorten it, correct mistypings and, in some cases, to make it read more fluently. Othere sources indicated.

HARVEY MATUSOW 5: 1973-2002


1973: Home from "exile", feeling strong and renewed. Coming home as a working artist, being in the moment - being part of an artistic team. Anna and I began to plan for concerts in the USA. I got Libby Owens Ford to prepare special glass with handmade carrying cases for the Glass Concert Tour. The kick- off was two live broadcasts on WBAI Music Store in New York, and after the second concert Anna and I parted…I left New York.

1974-1975: With the help of my friend Joe Bazer, we got a 1955 Ford school bus and converted it into a poor man's motor home.

1974-1983: I went to visit a large New Age commune in western Massachusetts. The commune had started out The Brotherhood of the Spirit, and when I arrived it was calling itself Metelica’s Aquarian Concept Inc. Michael Metelica was a young teenager who founded the commune sitting in a tree house in the wooded Berkshire Hills. [He] needed help in producing a radio programme. It was mutually beneficial -- I could help them in their radio show, and they could afford me the quiet isolation. [Picture source]

'Cadillac Ranch'
1974-1975: Connect with Boston-based macrobiotic newspaper The East/West Journal and soon found myself on their masthead as ‘Editor At Large’. Representing EW, I began to visit communes all over the country. Arrived in Amarillo in time to help The Ant Farm plant Stanley Marsh III's Cadillac Ranch. Stanley and I had been good friends for a number of years, but he couldn't understand my going hippy and living like a gypsy on the road. Wandered the west, went to my first Rainbow Gathering. Reflection of the Love Family, the Gaskin Farm.

1974-1977: Using the commune as my home base, I started to explore Eastern thought. I had studied a lot of Zen while in prison…Although exploring the East, I did not give up my Mormon beliefs, but stayed away from the Church for two reasons. Firstly, I didn't want to face or test rejection, and felt that my lifestyle was too way out ever to come back into any normal balance with society. I had allowed myself to move further and further away from any mainstream balances. The other reason was that blacks could not hold the Priesthood. I made a vow that when blacks could become priests, I would once again be an active member of my church.

1975-1977: I met, fell in love with, and married Emily. When I met her she had never been in a city in her life; she lived off in the woods far from all neighbors. Emily and I formed a spiritual community, Ammal’s Garden, and took vows of poverty, which Emily insisted on calling "vows of simplicity." Our door was open to those whom society rejected. We financed it all with a small inheritance my mother left me when she died in 1975. But, not before I had taken Emily around the world -- first class. It was an adventure like none I had ever known.

1977-1983: It was this quiet period in Tucson that got me into playing my bells once again. I had stopped and music and sound work after the split with Anna.

It was here that the Magic Mouse Theatre germinated and grew. The Theatre Company was born in a wooden shack that housed a school for mid-wives. I used this space, and the quiet of the early hours of the morning to practice my soft playing. I was alone usually, but occasionally played for a mid-wife on a middle-of-the-night home delivery run.

1977-1983: A strong mystical experience left no doubt in my mind that I must become and active member of my church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Driving through the village of St. David, I saw a sign, "House for Rent." I hit the brakes and rented the house. Discovered that the village was…one of the oldest Mormon communities in Arizona. Also found out that a few weeks earlier, the Church announced that blacks could now hold the priesthood. Now the one barrier I had about being an active church member was gone. Still concerned about my lifestyle and the clean-cut Mormon way. They had to clash - and did.

For a time in the 1980s (after his conversion to Mormonism), he was known as "Job Matusow [Wikipedia]

1981-1982: Emily and I enjoyed living in the desert, but our basic lifestyle hadn't changed. Magic Mouse Theatre grows. We got a sponsor, Truly Nolen, and had some economic stability and a brand new motor home in exchange for the old silver school bus. Emily really got into theatre, and pursued her character, the green-haired clown named Sparkles. Our work schedule: 144 school shows in nine months. …In 1980 Emily and I spent an aggregate of 108 days on the road, in our vehicle. Completed 126 five-minute radio programmes on Magic Mouse for local NPR station at the University of Arizona, and signed a contract to do a TV series for the PBS TV outlet. Magic Mouse became the "official" theatre company of the Tucson Zoo, and we performed every Saturday.

1982-1983: Back to Tucson. Soon started to feed the homeless, against the wishes of the City Fathers. Became deeply involved in social issues for the homeless, where we eventually turned our commercial cafe into a free kitchen. We left Tucson in a caravan of vehicles carrying homeless people: American Refugees in America.

1983: The homeless of El Paso, and my attempts to get the White House to help. Finally reached Ed Meese, spoke to him for about 20 minutes; got promised but no real help.

1983: Moved on with the caravan to Houston where we fed the homeless and upset all the neighbors. Actively involved in tent city for the homeless. Failed in attempts to get free kitchen and shelter established. The caravan for the homeless fell apart at the break-up of tent city, and a handful of us continued on to Washington where I registered as a lobbyist for the homeless at Congress.

1983-1986: Emily took sick while we were visiting Massachusetts and the doctor advised that she needed complete rest and caring for. We found and old farm house on a hill in Orange, and I dropped all activities to care for Emily…Applied for food stamps and welfare for the first time in my life. I didn't want to, but needed to know what people get put through.

1985-1989: Emily's health… had improved enough for us to open our house to care-provide for a mentally retarded young man. Both Emily and I felt that a direction of our service should be focused on those who society rejects the most. And, within two months, we had our second young man living with us. It's now almost two years since we began this work, and can only think of ways to enlarge and expand it.

1985-1989: We sold the motor home and bought two old school busses. We began a food and clothing programme in the most economically depressed town in the state. In 19 months we put out over 225,000 pounds of food to about 800 families, and didn't spend a penny of governmental money, local, state or Federal. The life of service grew as I sank the root in Emily's forest. The food programme expanded into New Hampshire.

1988-1989: I was in South Dakota on the Cheyenne River Reservation when I found out that Emily had cancer. She had been wrongly diagnosed three years earlier. Stopped all work, devoted the next year and a half of my life to nursing Emily until she died in July of 1989.

1989-1992: Returned to Arizona. Ran a homeless programme at St. Francis in the Foothills Methodist Church in Tucson. Lived in my school bus at the church for 11 months. Was given an opportunity to run a near-derelict motel on the Ghost Highway that had been superseded by the Interstate. For two and a half years I lived at the motel, serving poverty.

1991-1992: Met Lisa and marry. Changed my lifestyle. Shaved my beard and got a haircut for the first time in over 15 years. Back into show business full-time, as Cockyboo, the storyteller, so as to earn the money needed to do the service work that I still believe in and do as Director of Gandhi Peace Centre. Marriage doesn't work - Lisa and I divorce but remain close friends.

1993-1995: Start to do TV show, Magic Mouse Magazine. Win two Public Access National, Home Town Video Awards, 1993 and 1994 - combine my TV art with my social action work.

1995-1996: Leave Tucson and move to Utah, to Richfield, the town I was headed to back in 1954. Come full circle, finally climb onto my Mountain. Start Utah's first public access TV station.

Matusow houses the state's only public access station in this bus. Photo: Fred Hayes. [Source: 'McCarthyism Revisited: "The Stringless Yo-Yo" shows how a Mormon helped end the "Red Scare."' by David Madison.]

According to Stefene Russell in her article 'Voice from the Whirwind: Footnotes from the Book of Job' (18th June 2001)

'It was the calm haven of Glenwood that allowed him to found Sevier County Access Television, or SCAT-TV, which he still operates under the umbrella of the Ghandi Peace Centre. The Center is so named because the house and the property were a gift to Job from the Ghandi family (Yogesh and Job have done nonviolence work together for several decades). It includes the public access station, an informal animal adoption program, housing for anyone who finds him/herself at loose ends, a program to supply food and clothing to Indian reservations and a prisoner outreach program. This is also where Job makes his "peace bells," which he forges from melted-down munitions shells and bullet casings, with a few aluminum cans mixed in for proper texture.'

In 2001, he moved to Claremont, Hew Hampshire to run the town’s public access TV studio. Harvey Matusow died in New Hampshire from complications from a car accident in 2002.

Sources: Chronological entries: from the ‘Stringless Yo-Yo’ edited to correct mistypings and spellings, to shorten and, in a few cases, to make it read more fluently.

Begun in 1997, neither the book or the online version were completed by the time of Harvey Matusow's death. The website from which the chronological chapter outline notes are drawn, can be found here.

* Wikipedia says he was married twelve times to eleven women. One wedding was in a helicopter over New York City, another was in a piano factory.