Tag Archives: conspiracy

The Baysiders: Cults Within Cults

Standard

A while ago, I was trying to explain the Bayside movement to a couple of friends. My mother was quite involved with the group for most of the 1980s and even in the first half of the 1990s. I think she still considers herself part of it, though she’s not actively involved to the extent she was.

For those not in the know, The ‘Baysiders’ came about in the late 1960s and early 1970s, based around the ‘visions’ of Veronica Leuken, a housewife based in Bayside, a neighbourhood of New York City. Leuken claimed to start having visions of Mary, Jesus’s mother, in 1968, just before the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. After that, the visions came thick and fast and soon, according to Leuken, she was speaking with Mary and a host of Catholic saints. They gave her messages about the state of the world and future predictions (none of which ever happened within the time predicted). She had her ‘ecstacies’ recorded on tape and transcribed, which were then distributed as flyers or newsletters by her rapidly growing group of followers.

The followers gathered at Leuken’s local parish in Bayside, until the crowds started to disturb the neighbourhood and were moved on by the local government. Eventually, they were granted a site which was part of the 1964 World’s Fair pavilion in Flushing Meadows. Leuken and her followers would gather for ‘Rosary Vigils’, in which they would say the rosary for the duration of the night, while Leuken would “channel” Mary or whichever saint chose to speak to the crowd.

That’s the basic gist of what they’re about. Ideologically, they were (and possibly still are) very conservative and were committed to oppose the ‘modern’ changes to the Catholic Church, specifically the Vatican II Council, held in 1962. According to Leuken, Mary and the others were very disappointed with the changes. In fact, if you read even a smattering of the ‘prophecies‘, Mary and the other celestial, omniscient beings sound a lot like garden-variety John Birch Society members. They’re obsessed with Communism, with ‘Satanic’ infiltration in the Church, the U.N., homosexuality, the wayward youth and the minutae of how to say the Mass (“No communion in the hand”, deacons can’t have priestly powers). It also seems that Mary & Co. aren’t that big on equal rights for women, or allowing women to wear trousers, in another ‘traditionalist’ bent. Add to all that a lot of apocalyptic warnings about comets and wars and natural disasters wiping out large swathes of the planet’s populations and you’re left scratching your head about Leuken’s “God” and his benevolence and loving nature. To me, ‘God’ sounds batshit crazy and conspiracy-theory prone: he warns about the Illuminati and the Freemasons, a conspiracy to replace the ‘Pope’ with an ‘anti-Pope’, about record companies being under control of Wicca (???!!) and a ‘one-world government’.

Bear in mind that the Baysiders never separated themselves from Catholicism, prefering to protest from within. They would wear their blue berets to Mass and, instead of having the communion wafer handed to them, would kneel down in front of the priest and have the wafer placed on their tongues (as allegedly instructed by the ‘Virgin Mary’, via Leuken). They were also notable by their conservative dress, with ankle-length skirts and formal trousers (trousers only for the men, though – women were forbidden to wear trousers).

I don’t remember how my mother became part of this cult – I was still really young and in the haze of childhood. I didn’t really pay much attention to the ‘grown-ups’ and their doings. Suddenly, it seemed, she was spending time with a few Baysiders and adopting their views and mannerisms. She be-friended a strange old woman, who would bring over photo albums full of Polaroid photos with different coloured squiggles on them which contained ‘messages’, according to this woman. You see, they were taken at the World’s Fair site during these rosary vigils and ‘God’ had caused the shapes to appear on the film. It is interesting to note that Polaroid attorneys never really released a statement saying the photos were faked. The ‘zines printed by the group starting appearing in the house and my mother began to stock up on ‘holy water’ (water blessed by a priest).

My mother would tell my older sister and I (our other siblings were deemed too young, at that time, to understand) about prophecies like the “Plague Of Children” and “The Warning” and “The Chastisement”. It sounded scary as shit, but for some reason, it didn’t really bother me that much. My sister was really frightened and, it seems to me, carried around that fright for a long time. When I was 11, my mother asked if I wanted to go to a vigil. I agreed, mainly as an excuse to stay up late. We got on a coach in Hartford and on the two-hour trip to Flushing Meadows, I was sat with my mother and surrounded by Baysiders. At one point, someone shouted “Look at the sun! It’s spinning!”, everyone immediately looked over to the setting sun and agreed that it was indeed spinning. I didn’t see it spinning, but it did seem to change from a orange-ish to green colour for a few seconds. That may have been my eyesight, though. I didn’t count it as a ‘miracle’.

At the pavilion – there were hundreds of people setting up deck chairs and blankets and clutching rosary beads. There was a statue of the Virgin Mary at one end of the pavilion and that end was already crowded with believers. Then, they started saying the rosary…and saying the rosary…and saying the rosary. This went on until midnight or maybe 1 a.m. I can’t quite remember because I grew bored and fell asleep. It definitely wasn’t worth getting to stay up late for. I can’t remember if my mother had brought our Polaroid to take ‘miraculous photos’. I was woken by my mother and wearily got back on the coach to go home.

I think I may have gone one other time about a year later, but after that, I eschewed any involvement with the gatherings. I couldn’t see the point in saying prayers over and over and nothing seemed to happen. The problem was, I still couldn’t escape their influence on my mother. I went to a Catholic middle-school and in my sixth-grade year, my mother kept me out of sex education class (in a Catholic school!!!) – which was pretty humiliating at the time. She used to hector my sister and brother and I about listening to rock music (which she claimed was ‘the devil’s music’). She tried to keep me from hanging out with a friend who lived down the street because his family were a bit too secular and liberal for her liking (at least, that’s what I suspected back then).

Eventually, as I grew into my late teens, I was finally able to shuck off any trappings of Bayside. My mother continued to see her ‘Sider buddies and go to the vigils – but I stopped taking any of it seriously (not that I had taken it that seriously in the first place). While I still considered myself a Catholic, I was a liberal Catholic and getting moreso all the time. In my mid-twenties, I gave up on the Church altogether, having decided that I really didn’t believe in it’s teachings anymore. I chose agnosticism as my path and have strived to keep to it as much as possible – getting rid of any long-held dogma.

Leuken passed away in 1995, which led to a schism in the Bayside movement. Her husband continued the vigils, but ousted one of his wife’s assistants – who promptly formed a rival Baysider sect. Mr Leuken passed away in 2002 and another woman has stepped up to lead the ‘original’ group. The Catholic Church still denies any authenticity to the prophecies…and the beat goes on. The strangest thing about the Baysiders, it seems to me, is that they’re more conservative than the main religious organisation they branch off from. Unlike certain sects of Sufism, which branches from Islam and Zen, which parts ways some from Buddhism – the Baysiders seem to want to turn back the clock with Catholicism and return it to a perceived earlier, ‘better’ period. They’re sincere, but ultimately misguided, as the world is passing them by. I suspect they’re all up in arms about the recent gay marriage vote in Ireland and still predicting that ‘great comet of fire’ is just around the corner. But hey, at least they probably agree with the current ‘Pope’ regarding the matter.

Daft Or Dastardly? The Laurel Canyon Conspiracy

Standard

A short time ago, a FB friend posted a link to a site all about the supposed “Laurel Canyon Conspiracy”. I think the context was a post I shared about Aleister Crowley. I’m not a hard-core Thelemite – but I do enjoy Crowley’s books on magick and the bit of his fiction I’ve read so far.

In any case, the L.C. conspiracy seems to have been first posted online by a bloke called Dave McGowan in 2008. Since then, it’s been reproduced in sections or in it’s entirety on various sites. Usually, I dismiss that kind of thing outright as nonsense, thought up by paranoids who want to blame the shitness of their own lives on some over-arching group (The Bilderbergers, The Rothschilds, The Rockefellers, etc, etc.)

McGowan contends that the 1960s counter-culture began in the Laurel Canyon neighbourhood of Los Angeles. The main characters in the scenario, such as Jim Morrison and David Crosby, were the scions of upper-ranks military commanders and intelligence personnel. They were then indoctrinated into working for the CIA to….well, McGowan never really says. Was the aim to spread the gospel of non-violence and psychedelics, to create a pliable populace easy to manipulate? Was it to create a counter-culture to scare the god-fearing Joe and Jane Six-Packs into voting for a strong conservative government and perpetual warfare?

Maybe both, or neither. There seem to be a couple of glaring errors in his analysis, almost from the outset. He contends that Frank Zappa was ‘pro-war’ and that all of the bands hung out together and were all good pals. According to the testimony in other books, Arthur Lee, of the band Love, liked neither Frank Zappa nor Jim Morrison. David Crosby has gone on record several times about how much he loathed Jim Morrison. Frank Zappa lampooned the ‘hippie scene’ quite a few times on his early albums (especially “We’re Only In It For The Money“, released in 1968). The idea that these disparate personalities were all gelling together for the CIA seems ludicrous…add in Stephen Stills, Charles Manson, Dennis Wilson (of The Beach Boys) and Neil Young and things seem even further far-fetched.

McGowan has done quite a bit of research on the history of Laurel Canyon, especially during the 1920s and 1930, when it’s homes were bought up by some big-name Hollywood folk, as well as stage magician extraordinaire, Harry Houdini (yep, he did some work for the U.S. gubberment too, says McGowan). McGowan impressively does find connections between a lot of the key L.C. players in the 1960s and while it may look like something sinister was happening, I’m not convinced that because a lot of the musicians were ‘army brats’, they automatically were drafted into helping the military/industrial complex. The U.S. military was a big employer immediately after WWII, when a lot of them were born – it doesn’t seem like much of a coincidence to me.

To be fair, there was a lot of weird stuff happening – but it seems L.A. does attract it’s share of chancers and miscreants and has done since the film industry set up there a hundred years ago. Add in psychedelics and sexual liberation and well…you got yourself a freaky scene, man. McGowan does shed light on the infamous Manson murders of 1969, deviating a lot from the ‘official’ story given by prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi. Apparently, it was the result of a couple of drug deals gone very badly. Manson botched a drug deal with an African-American dealer, which left him (Manson) paranoid and looking for protection. Allegedly, he approached the “Straight Satans”, a biker gang, who were hanging around Manson’s place for the ‘free love’ and drugs. They thought Manson was a joke, but agreed to protect him if he could score some mescaline for a party they were throwing in a couple of weeks’ time.

Manson went to Bobby Beausoleil, who had formed short-lived psychedelic band The Orkustra (who later morphed into It’s A Beautiful Day) and knew a lot of the Laurel Canyon players. Beausoleil then contacted Gary Hinman, an acquaintence and fellow musician. Gary spoke with a couple of chemist friends who said they could get the amount of mescaline together. Money changed hands and that was that. Until, according to the bikers, the mescaline was bunk and they demanded their money back. Beausoleil went to Hinman, who said he’d already spent the money. Manson got involved and Hinman was killed, after being kept in his home by Beausoleil. Hinman was suffocated, still suffering from a wound Manson had given him. To make the murder appear as a political attack, they scrawled “Political Piggy” on Hinman’s wall.

Beausoleil was, of course, the prime suspect for the murder of Gary Hinman and trying to protect him, Manson hatched the idea of a few more murders to make it look like a political gang was on a rampage – hence the “Healter Skelter” (sic) and “Piggies” scrawled on the walls of the Sharon Tate home in blood. Bugliosi thought that Manson was serious with his “race war” talk and run with that story. It seems it’s a lot more mundane. It was all about money and paranoia.

Getting back to the original premise – why would the CIA create the counter-culture, only to destroy it (via Manson and Altamont) a few years later? The Laurel Canyon theory also ignores all the other contemporary scenes in San Francisco, New York, London, Paris and Amsterdam. The S.F. and London scenes were already in action as early as 1964, while Laurel Canyon didn’t really start until 1965 or ’66. While isolated examples like Vito Paulekas and Zappa seemed ahead of the game, most sorta drifted in after the fact.

Aside from the Hinman killing and the Tate-LaBianca murders, the other major tragedy of the era was Paulekas’s two-year-old son, Godot, falling to his death in his father’s studio. There’s also allegations that before he died, he was ‘introduced to sensuality’ by being passed around to adults open mouths. So, yes, there’s alleged child abuse as well. Still, I don’t believe that everything and everyone in the Canyon at that time were CIA agents and connected to the government. None of the conspiracy theorists have offered any sort of official proof – wouldn’t a Freedom Of Information request turn up hard evidence that Crosby et al. were on the payroll? Perhaps I’m naive in that respect.

As with anything – you can read the theory for yourself and make your own decision – it is twenty-one pages long and covers a five decades or so, so it does get meandering. It’s here, if you dare.

Also, as a bonus – McGowan references the film, Mondo Hollywood, several times in the article – you can watch the film in it’s entirety below:

We’re All Still Here…No-One Has Gone Away…

Standard

Hey now – it’s Gregorian year 2013…we all survived the dreaded ending of the world, which was supposed to happen on 21st December, 2012. I suspect there’s some fundie Christian preachers still wiping the egg from their faces. Not only them, quite a few New Agers and counter-culture luminaries, too. Like Daniel Pinchbeck, who even wrote a book all about the coming transformation. To be honest, I’m a little gutted. I was hoping that maybe humanity would transform and get a bit smarter – could be a delayed effect, though. Maybe the intelligence level will rise in the next two years.

Ah well, I suppose it’s good the world didn’t end – it means more time for books to read and music to listen to!

Our new-ish feline arrival, Magic, is doing well and settling into life at Ooze Towers quite well, now that his brother and sister have (mostly) stopped hissing and growling at him. He’s even ventured outside and has explored a couple of the neighbouring gardens (hopefully not leaving any…er…surprises in them). He’s a happy-go-lucky little character, though he wasn’t thrilled about going to the vets’ and getting his shots. According to Pixie, he was a trooper and didn’t freak out at all.

What else can I tell ya? Kate Bush accepted a CBE from ‘her majesty’. Aaaaaargh. That really did my head in. After years of fighting the EMI bosses to do things her own way, releasing quality records despite public indifference and generally being the definition of the word ‘integrity’, she accepts an ‘honour’ bestowed by a family of parasites who are alleged to be our ‘betters’. Why, Kate, why? I suppose, being an artist, she can cofound her fans, much like Dylan and Lou Reed. It takes her down a smidge in my estimation – but I can’t help it – I still love her.

David Bowie‘s back with a new single, in case you’ve been trapped under a rock for the past few days. The song’s O.K. – sorta melancholy and harking back to his late 70s/Eno collaboration albums. I’m not convinced it’s all that the Bowie-maniacs in the press are making it out to be – but it’s cool the dude is still alive and cranking out tunes. Some American record exec guy had the gall and temerity to try and give (unsolicited, mind) advice to the Thin White Duke…and has become a laughing-stock amongst the UK Twitter muso-hipster community. I dunno – while he may have mis-fired with the “Do It Like The Mumfords” comment – some of it seemed fairly spot-on, particularly about the choice of tune for the single. Anyway, it’s not like Bowie’s going to listen to Lefsetz or me or anyone else. He’s 66 and probably past caring what anyone thinks. More power to him, says me.

I am to start working on a new episode of my podcast, The Kaleidophonic Stroboscope, soon – so I’ll have that posted when it’s done. I bet you can’t wait!! (heh heh…)

Paul Is Really Dead?

Standard

I was on Twitter last week, when the Guardian Music posted a link to a site that claims (in all seriousness) that The Beatles were actually made up of several different members – all appearing in different countries for different photo-shoots. Yes, you read that correctly. There were a couple of different Johns, a couple of Ringos, etc.

The person who provides the most “evidence” for the site managers, however, is one James Paul McCartney. Yep, the ol’ Paul rumours have been stoked once again.

One of the longest-running, and often the most outrageous conspiracy theories in the music world is that Paul McCartney died in a car accident in November, 1966. He was then replaced with either: a) a look-alike who had many plastic surgeries to look even more like J.P.M. or b) some sort of robotic creation. Now, it does seem much easier to believe a) over b), I admit, though they both sound loopy. The theorists often refer to ‘the impostor’ as “Faul” (‘Fake Paul’, geddit?)

As with any conspiracy, all of the answers to any questions are easily supplied. The reason to keep the band together, after Paul’s untimely demise? Well, it was for the revenue generated by the group, which went to the UK. Why the band would give out clues as to what happened? They were ‘hidden’, so only those in-the-know would decipher them. And on and on…

 Allegedly, if you look  at photos of Paul in 1967, you can “tell” it’s ‘Faul’ because the ears and chin appear different to photos of Paul in 1965/early 1966. The theorists point to a myseterious height difference, too. Some say he grew taller, some that he was suddenly shorter. See, that should maybe put a damper on the theory right there – they can’t even decide on the physical features of ‘Faul’.

The reason they all grew moustaches in early 1967? Well, ‘Faul’ had some lip surgery and needed to cover the scars, of course..so the others made it look as if they had all planned to do it.

There are probably hundreds of internet sites all about the ‘clues’ on the album covers and in some of the songs. The “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” cover allegedly contains the most. The flower arrangement shaped like a (left-handed – Paul ‘was’ a leftie, remember?) guitar spells out “Paul?”. The doll that says “Welcome The Rolling Stones, Good Guys” has a toy Austin-Healey car on it’s lap, as well as a blood-red driving glove – Macca was driving an Austin-Healey when he ‘died’. The four wax figures of the “old” Beatles are looking mournfully down at Paul’s ‘grave’, which is in front of the drum. Paul is standing in front of the cutout with a hand over his head, which is the sign of death in some Eastern countries. There are other ‘clues’, which you can read about on one of the sites.

Has anyone seen Paul?

There’s one ‘clue’ that does seem fairly creepy, though. If you hold a mirror to the drum head – it spells out “I ONE I X HE DIE” with what looks like a small arrow pointing up to Paul, between the “E” and “D”. The “IX” refers to the 9th of November, supposedly the day Paul died. It doesn’t ‘prove’ anything, of course – but still a bit spooky.

Mirrored Sgt. Pepper drum head

Some of the songs, too. “Fixing A Hole” becomes a tune about the band continuing on with “Faul”. The character “Billy Shears” is a nod to the impostor’s real name. “Lovely Rita” is a meter maid that Paul saw just before the accident. John references the same in the line from “Good Morning, Good Morning“: “Watching a skirt, you start to flirt, now you’re in gear…” There’s also the “he blew his mind out in a car” line from “A Day In The Life” – which John explained was about Tara Browne, the Guinness heir who also died in a car accident – but we all know it’s really about Paul (wink, wink).

Magical Mystery Tour” and The “White Album” contain more clues. The title track with it’s “dying to take you away” line. “Fool On The Hill” describes yet another version of Paul’s death – where he went to France and was pushed (or fell?) from a cliff onto a beach. “I Am The Walrus” – another animal as a symbol of death. In the M.M.T. film, during the “Your Mother Should Know” dance sequence – John, George & Ringo are all wearing red carnations on their tuxedos, Paul is wearing a black carnation. In the fade-out of “I Am The Walrus” – it sounds like a voice is saying “Paul is really dead.”

The White Album has the famous “turn me on, dead man” backwards bit in Revolution 9. There’s also another bit where Lennon is talking, saying something about a man needing a surgeon, but going to a dentist instead. The link between “I’m So Tired” and “Blackbird” is Lennon mumbling something. When this is played backward, Lennon is heard saying “Paul’s dead, man, miss him, miss him.” “Blackbird”s first lyrics are “Blackbird singing in the dead of night…”

Is this Billy Shears?

On the poster that came with the 2-LP set, there’s a small black-and-white photo of Paul, tucked into a lower corner. The theorists are claiming is “Billy Shears”, or “Faul” or whatever you want to call him. I dunno, it looks like Paul to me, but maybe I’m a part of the conspiracy too????!!!

I don’t really need to go into the Abbey Road LP cover, do I? Y’know – Paul’s barefoot, the rest are wearing shoes. There’s the order of them, John’s the preacher, Ringo’s the mourner, Paul’s the stiff and George, the grave-digger. the Volkswagen ‘beetle’ in the background has a licence plate that reads “LMW 28IF”. “LMW” allegedly means “Linda McCartney Weeps”, which doesn’t really make sense if Macca died in ’66 – he would not have met her at all. The “28IF” means that he would have been 28, if he lived – which isn’t true either, seeing as he was born in 1942 – he would have been 27.

The back cover shows a crack in the wall, that runs through the “S” in Beatles, meaning the group were not whole. I think there’s a few other ones (Something about the indents in the wall – some are in light, one is not). As for the songs, the abrupt ending of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” is supposed to represent the abrupt ending of Paul’s life. In “Come Together“, John sings “One and one and one makes three“, meaning the remaining Beatles. The “Maxell” in “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” is allegedly about the MI5 agent used by the UK government to keep everything hush-hush about Paul’s demise.

Finally, the Let It Be cover shows bearded Paul’s mouth obscured by a microphone, while the others’ mouths are not covered….and Paul’s in front of a red background, while the others are against a white background. Hmmm….what does this all mean??

To me, nothing. I don’t really believe the conspiracy theory. Ultimately, The Beatles were a great rock band–if the ‘establishment’ were using them, it backfired, as The Fabs became avatars for the psychedelic counter-culture. They used their music for peace, not fomenting militarism. As far as keeping the band going – John seemed to want to leave around 1967 anyway and George was feeling dis-satisfied during the White Album sessions. Even Ringo quit the group in 1968, only to be persuaded to come back. It seems to me that ‘Faul’ would’ve wanted it to end as quickly as possible, so he wouldn’t have to keep acting like Paul McCartney – take the money and run, so to speak.

That doesn’t stop the theorists, though. It seems to be a “Thinker Thinks, Prover Proves” situation. They’re convinced Macca died and was replaced, or there were several different Paul McCartneys, for different occasions. If you dare to brave the murky waters of the “Paul Is Dead” rumours, here’s a couple of links:

This person not only thinks Paul is dead – they think that the same guy who stepped in for Paul, stepped in for Vivian Stanshall of The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band as well!!!???!!! Vivian Stanshall died in ’66, too?????!!!! I’m not even sure how that dual role thing would physically work, seeing as the guy (whom he calls “Phil Ackrill”) had to perform in Beatles sessions and record and sing with the Bonzos. The site is here.

This site is a handy guide to the visual and audio ‘clues’ to the “Paul Is Dead” rumour: Paul Is Dead Hoax

Here’s the site the Guardian linked to – which inspired me to write this post. Ladies and Gents, I give you: The Beatles Never Existed! You just need to read it – it doesn’t even bear me explaining it to you. To me, the title of the site is a misnomer, but I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

This blog page goes into a bit more detail about Paul ‘dying’ in France in 1966 – allegedly spoken (or written) by George Harrison in 1992: Paul died in France

There’s also P.I.D. stuff on conspiracy-meister David Icke‘s site – but a lot of that is already covered in many other sites. You’re welcome!

“…the man with the foolish grin is talking perfectly loud…”