6 Degrees between Ted Kaczynski and Jeffrey Epstein: Part 1

In 2003, writer and director Lutz Dammbeck released the German documentary Das Netz (released in the US as The Net: the Unabomber, LSD and the Internet. The film goes into some of the many stunning connections between the burgeoning technology of information theory, computers, cybernetics, mind control, the counterculture… and how all of that ties into the story of Ted Kaczynski.

In this series, we will be exploring the “six degrees of Jeffrey Epstein” that connects the disgraced pedophile, trafficker and financier to Kaczynski by way of some of the primary figures in the creation of Silicon Valley as well as the creation of the counterculture in the 1960s and beyond.

Kaczynski, as the documentary points out, was convicted of mailing bombs to universities, scientists and airports over a period of decades. In fact, Unabomber, is actually a law enforcement designated shortening of “University and Airport Bomber.” One incredibly interesting thing about the documentary that was pointed out by David Livingstone, author of Transhumanism: History of a dangerous idea is the connection between the network that Kaczynski is alleged to have attacked and Jeffrey Epstein.

“Bear in mind that Epstein was funding a lot of science long before he had a (deservedly!) bad reputation to launder. It was a prior genuine interest.” Brand, (who had been seen with “Epstein’s girls” in photos multiple times) tried to claim.

Not everyone was buying Brand’s “smokescreen” story of how and why Epstein was able to go on for so long. Someone shares a photo of Brand with two young girls purported to have been flown in on Epstein’s “Lolita Airlines.” Brand is flanked by what appears to be two teenage girls. Not just Brand but other figures tied to this same current both in science and literature, such as Marshall McLuhan, cyberneticist Gregory Bateson and others.

Dammbeck also reaches out to John Brockman himself, an important figure in the intersection of the underground worlds of both the hard science of computers and the arts. Brockman would bridge many worlds, that of Brand and his Whole Earth Catalog hippies as well as that of what would become the geek masters of the universe of Silicon Valley.

Brockman was involved in “happenings” such as those put on by Andy Warhol that resulted in the Velvet Underground. He was like a connective tissue between various subcultures spending time with scientists as well as the likes of experimental music superstar John Cage.

When multimedia art became popular he found his role as the marketer of the “digerati” quite stimulating and profitable. Considering his closeness to Edge.org the Epstein funded science publication, maybe a little too stimulating… But what does all this have to do with the Kaczynski?

Dammbeck points out that it seems that the Unabomber’s stated victims are often connected to what he terms the “Brockman network.” Of course there are the likes of Kirby Sommers, who makes unsubstantiated claims about Epstein such as his supposedly being tutored by Kaczynski at one point. Despite a minefield of disinformation, there are some rather compelling links between these various circles, this network/net, Dammbeck explores in his documentary.

Brockman in his floppy hat and crumpled overcoat looks like some self styled Indiana Jones type. His “Expanded Cinema Festival” was highly important to the rise of multimedia art that would inspire some of the zine and mail art of the 70s and “video art” of the 80s and 90s. The confluence of forces that he managed to wield and market made him an indelible fixture on multiple scenes. It was John Cage who would hand Norbert Weiner’s Cybernetics book over to Brockman, in fact.

One aim of the multimedia philosophy was “rearranging the senses” which sounds similar to the aim of Rimbaud, using drugs, alcohol and decadence to “derange the senses” to create a reality that corresponds to one’s desires and will. Brockman friend and client Stewart Brand would be tied to Ken Kesey, the “acid tests.” He also coined the term “personal computer.” LSD guru and CIA asset Dr. Timothy Leary would also heavily push the computer current in the 80s and 90s around the same time that Apple’s Steve Jobs was experimenting with psychedelics.

Brand would also be responsible for the first ever alternative computer network, separate from the military network the Arpanet, centered around nodes at various universities long known to have worked with the military-industrial complex and intelligence. “The Well” it was called. This was a time of great techno-optimism that lasted on into the early 2000s carried along by the likes of Douglas Rushkoff.

Brand, like Kesey, had military ties. He had been a Lieutenant in the US army, stationed at Ft. Dix, New Jersey. On the weekends he would head to the lower east side of New York where he spent time hanging out with artists around 1959-1960. This would eventually lead to Brockman’s involvement in USCO (US Company, a group of artists and engineers, foreshadowing the role Brand would have tying these seemingly unrelated worlds together).

An apparent coincidence or seeming synchronicity led to Brand becoming involved with Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. Brand had been taking photographs at the same reservation that the chief from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was supposedly from. This, according to the tale told by Brand, is how he ended up with an in to meet Kesey via a mutual friend.

Next thing you know, Brand would be on the bus, Furthur, the iconic Merry Pranksters van was driven by arch-Beatnik Neal Cassady. The house band for the Pranksters’ “acid tests” were a little group called The Warlocks. They would later become famous as the Grateful Dead.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as the many weird and varied connections in this web of intrigue involving the world wide web, security state authoritarian tech, the rise of Silicon Valley and the Unabomber.

Stay tuned for part II.

Walking the Wire Podcast Aftershow featuring Philip Fairbanks

Between next week and early April should have a 3 hour interview (possibly in two parts) coming soon from independent journalist B.Z. Douglas. First half we talk about my book. In the second we talk about how we met, our shared love of The Wire and how a Twitter mutual friend introduced us due to our both being targeted for harassment by lawyers who don’t like the factual reporting we’ve done on their clients. On our first zoom call, The Wire, the early 2000s HBO crime drama came up. We talked a lot about how the show encapsulates corruption in the system and ended up discussing the idea of doing a podcast based on The Wire from the perspective of two indie journos. Each episode we cover one of the shows with help of a special guest. Mostly people who come from one of the walks of life in the show whether that’s dock workers, union members, ex drug dealers, former prisoners, former cops or whistleblowers. We’ve already got quite a few interesting guests lined up and have recorded the first 4 episodes which we should begin releasing by April if we stay on schedule.

Meantime, we are going to be doing Twitter spaces aftershows that will be restreamed on YouTube and Facebook. Today was our second aftershow and first livestreamed video afterparty. The stream only covers the first part, a Baltimore native came on and shared some inside scoops about certain characters in the show based on real people (David Simon even used real names of Baltimore homicide detectives like Jay Lansdale and many characters are based on real people or composites of multiple people).

Once we have a schedule will be shared with the next aftershow. We welcome audience engagement and even if you haven’t seen the show or heard the podcast you’re welcome to come join us (warning, spoilers abound).

You can check out B.Z. Douglas at http://www.bzdug.com where you can also find his YouTube, Substack, Patreon and social media including his music. That’s right, both B.Z. and I are guitarists and Tom Waits fans so the first two seasons of Walking the Wire podcast just may have versions of us covering the song… To keep up to date follow @walkingwirepod on Twitter.

Don’t forget to check out the new book Pedogate Primer: the politics of pedophilia now available at Amazon in paperback and on Kindle. Also available at independent booksellers like Powell’s and Skylight Bookstore if you’d rather not support Bezos and the chain stores like Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Target and Wal-Mart. It is also available from some overseas sellers in Taiwan, Poland, UK, Australia, Germany and a couple other countries.

Do the Forced Labor Bop: a previously published underground film review

This article was originally published in the apparently defunct, waywordwell website. Some correspondence between myself and Sara Weis and Arturo Cubacub the filmmaker artists behind the film seemed to have been in the works to be published at the also now defunct GetUnderground webzine. I will be republishing the waywordwell article today. I also just today learn that Arturo died December of 2018. He was an amazing artist and innovator who took the time to correspond me in great deal. As I said, I had planned to publish some quotes and snippets from correspondence and an editor was on track to do so but said magazine no longer exists so I will be reprinting here at some time once I’ve had time to process Arturo’s death. A man who I spent maybe an hour with on the phone and just a couple dozen or more pages of correspondence but just his taking his time and taking me seriously made quite a difference at that time. He will be missed and the art world suffers with his loss.

Do the forced labor bop

Philip Fairbanks

It started as a harmless Youtube search. Because I can’t get enough of my fix of Japanese bossa nova, I decided to do a search for Shibuya-kei, a Japanese musical movement epitomized by bands like Flipper’s Guitar, Pizzicato 5 and Fantastic Plastic Machine. I see this clip for a “mini-epic,” entitled B-17. It’s a trailer for a short film inspired by Shibuya-kei and manga. This, I thought, has got to be dreadfully awesome, or painfully terrible.

Turns out it was dreadful, painful and terrible. Most of all, though, it was awesome. It’s the story of Silly White Girl AKA Sarah Weis, who spends her days making pro-war polo shirts and being a sex slave locked in a sub-sub-sub-basement of the White House. Major Orwellian overtones and black comedy in the vein of Brautigan and Vonnegut combine with disturbing scenes of the life of a girl who wakes up to find herself trapped and under constant surveillance in a dungeon/pleasure den.

It’s kind of a musical, in that there are two scenes that are as much music video montage and story and the soundtrack, performed on moog and theremin, was written and performed by Sarah Weis and Arturo Cubacub.

Arturo films and directs the piece based on a performance piece by Sarah. Arturo, internationally acclaimed for his award winning films, directs the piece which is based on 19 year old Sarah’s performance piece.

I would give a synopsis, but according to Sarah and Arturo, the air of mystery is too important. Suffice it to say, in all but the last scene, Sarah is the only human actor. Other parts are played by, according to the credits the Man(nequin). The film is disturbing, disorienting and makes me want to join Amnesty International. It’s humorous in a very dark way, but after reading news about detainees being stripped of dignity and tortured, I can’t laugh too hard. The film conceptualizes the madness of post-9/11 America. It envisions a world where no one is safe from our protectors who already have the right to surveillance, phone taps and other civil rights breaches.

The entire film is available on Youtube.com and can be found at http://www.youtube.com/bseventeen. Check out the trailers and start at episode one if you want it to make any sense. Don’t miss chapters like “The brand of the free,” or “I heart the war on terrorism.” I contacted the creators and gave them my impression. I said they made John Waters and David Lynch look like Walt Disney and Norman Rockwell. Arturo jokingly replied that their aim was to “make Walt Disney and Norman Rockwell look like Joseph Thorak and Leni Riefenstahl.” Copies of the dvd are for sale at http://b-seventeen.com.

Dreamtigers – Ellapsis Album Review from New Noise Magazine

The latest album from Dreamtigers, released by Skeletal Lightning, opens with Six Rivers which was wisely first to be released as a single last November. It has me hooked from the opening swells, the cinematic gloom and the intricate percussion brings to mind Godspeed, You Black Emperor a bit.

Some of the same alternate history nostalgia I get from a few other groups, among them the “sinister surf” rock tones of The Allah-Las. It feels a bit more grungy, but still somehow has a clean, crisp sound as well. I am a nut for echoey, textured, wall of sound and can get down with the shoegazey, raw, but controlled feel of the album. The vocals also can contort with emotion, at times they bring to mind the dark, dissonant vocal harmonies of classic Alice in Chains. Other times they call to mind the frenetic energy of The Wagner Logic, psychedelic indie rock out of Kasilof, Alaska.

I’d listened to a couple tracks available from the new album at Bandcamp, then found some of their earlier work on YouTube but listening to the album from start to finish over just under 1.5 beers (right near the perfect amount of not drunk/not sober for most creative tasks for which muscle memory is already built in). Just a couple weeks ago, the official music video for “I See the Future” also dropped at YouTube which is worth a view.

Of course, the album art and name would have called out to me enough to have me at least try to find some sample of the group online. And sure enough, for me at least the name Dreamtigers jumped out, after all I’m a fan of magical realism and Borges and Kafka are two of my favorites. The collection of poems and essays by Jorge Luis Borges. But with all that in its favor, the percussion, the luscious sound engineering, the percussion and vocals, and of course the stories carried along in the lyrics as well.

The album title “Ellapsis” is a made-up word related to the idea of “Time Sickness.” The idea is how time, grief, loss, sadness and pain can compound over time. Between one best friend and three mentors dying in the past 3 years and finding myself at the far edge of my 30s, impending 40somethingness upon me, as well as having come to terms with mortality and frailty after an injury left me bedridden and in need of surgery, these are some concepts I’ve had a lot of time to ponder on in the last calendar year.

The latest album from Dreamtigers, released by Skeletal Lightning, opens with Six Rivers which was wisely first to be released as a single last November. It has me hooked from the opening swells, the cinematic gloom and the intricate percussion brings to mind Godspeed, You Black Emperor a bit.

Some of the same alternate history nostalgia I get from a few other groups, among them the “sinister surf” rock tones of The Allah-Las. It feels a bit more grungy, but still somehow has a clean, crisp sound as well. I am a nut for echoey, textured, wall of sound and can get down with the shoegazey, raw, but controlled feel of the album. The vocals also can contort with emotion, at times they bring to mind the dark, dissonant vocal harmonies of classic Alice in Chains. Other times they call to mind the frenetic energy of The Wagner Logic, psychedelic indie rock out of Kasilof, Alaska.

I’d listened to a couple tracks available from the new album at Bandcamp, then found some of their earlier work on YouTube but listening to the album from start to finish over just under 1.5 beers (right near the perfect amount of not drunk/not sober for most creative tasks for which muscle memory is already built in). Just a couple weeks ago, the official music video for “I See the Future” also dropped at YouTube which is worth a view.

Of course, the album art and name would have called out to me enough to have me at least try to find some sample of the group online. And sure enough, for me at least the name Dreamtigers jumped out, after all I’m a fan of magical realism and Borges and Kafka are two of my favorites. The collection of poems and essays by Jorge Luis Borges. But with all that in its favor, the percussion, the luscious sound engineering, the percussion and vocals, and of course the stories carried along in the lyrics as well.

The album title “Ellapsis” is a made-up word related to the idea of “Time Sickness.” The idea is how time, grief, loss, sadness and pain can compound over time. Between one best friend and three mentors dying in the past 3 years and finding myself at the far edge of my 30s, impending 40somethingness upon me, as well as having come to terms with mortality and frailty after an injury left me bedridden and in need of surgery, these are some concepts I’ve had a lot of time to ponder on in the last calendar year.

READ THE ENTIRE REVIEW AT NEW NOISE MAGAZINE

A Message to Anirban Haldar, Lucky Srinivasan, Assorted Other Alleged Conspirators and the Lambert Worldwide Law Firm Plus a Tom Petty Cover

I have tried to no avail to get statements from the alleged conspirators in fraud in the story that Lambert Worldwide has asked me to remove. I will not refuse said story without proof that my sources (named and unnamed) are all lying and that the pages and pages of documents I have are somehow falsified despite being obtained through public, often government sources and platforms like PACER. It is unfortunate perhaps to the parties involved that their name is associated with their past acts, but I am but the messenger and as the old saying goes: don’t shoot the messenger.

I am more than willing to speak with anyone from Lambert or any other agent of Anirban, Lucky and the rest of the alleged co-conspirators. I have much more evidence that is yet to be revealed and a fraud inspector is working on an analysis of the highly irregular activity involving the group’s connection to a verified check-kiting scheme and Plains Capital Bank. Lambert Worldwide assured me there is more context to the story, I am sure of that. This is why I attempted multiple times to contact Lucky, Gwen, Anirban, Alvar and others involved. None wanted to share their side of the story, and I still have hours of on the record testimony yet to be published regarding this whole affair.

Please do respond to my email in regards to your request to pull my reporting. I am very proud of this story and stand by the facts presented within. I am aware of Lambert’s history of SLAPP suits related to various news outlets in Malta, so I am aware you have experience attempting to exercise a chilling effect on the media but I do not think this will turn out exactly as you had planned. I would also hereby like a comment from anyone at Lambert, Ben Lambert or any of his subsidiaries, 50% of whom would recommend working there according to GlassDoor, regarding the allegations of SLAPP suits against Maltese reporters in defense of powerful interests.

Hope you enjoy the Tom Petty cover!

Now for everyone who isn’t an alleged ponzi ring member or law firm supporting such:

You guys like the song, “Don’t back down?” Well, if you can get through the few minutes of me explaining how silly it is that this law firm that has threatened multiple Maltese outlets with SLAPP suits to intimidate reporters is trying to intimidate me you can hear my rendition. It’s, of course dedicated to Lambert Worldwide. They said I don’t have enough context in my story. I offered to speak with them further but they want it off the record, told them I couldn’t promise that. I will however start publishing some public domain documents in the interim that support my reporting since they feel that more context is needed. to read the story a Houston ponzi ring and their law firm don’t want you to see, click the link. Please share far and wide, don’t let them keep the truth hid so they can continue to potentially accrue more victims. We found that they were still recruiting marks as recently as 2020 and I’ve heard since then that the hunt for new rubes to feed the ponzi scheme continue to this day. https://philfairbanks.com/2021/04/20/a-houston-racketeering-ring-of-mini-madoffs-has-been-extorting-victims-out-of-their-life-savings-for-decades-the-syndicate-is-also-linked-to-a-tragic-2016-murder-suicide-involving-t/

Weezer and TLC “Say It Ain’t Scrubs” and Bluegrass Nirvana covers

I’ve always enjoyed mashing up genres and one of the earliest examples of this are my bluegrass cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana and the mash-up of Weezer’s Say It Ain’t So and TLC’s No Scrubs.

I found long ago that both Nirvana (and oddly enough Culture Club’s Do You Really Wanna Hurt Me) translate well to a bluegrass style. Someone requested I try to put together the rest of the Weezer/TLC mash-up and told them I would do that and throw in some bluegrass Nirvana for free. I’m quite rusty on the guitar and my singing voice is out of practice as well, but practice makes better, right?

I guess you could say I’m taking requests? Anyway, I’m taking random comments from people who follow me on social media and using that as an excuse to either make or upload things I made. Was fooling around last night and mentioned how I used to mashup the TLC song No Scrubs and Weezer’s Say It Ain’t So. Recorded the chorus and someone requested it. Not sure if they were just kidding or not, but all I needed was an excuse to figure out how to put the two songs together.

Confederacy of Dunces Ignatius O'Reilly

A Scene From Confederacy Of Dunces Narrated by Philip Fairbanks

I first discovered J.K. Toole’s work while homeless so “the problem of space” discussed (where to keep all your books and notebooks, of course) hit home (pun not intended) quite hard. This is a scene from early in the book, Ignatius O’Reilly is being hassled and harassed by a busybody cop while his mother is shopping and he is fiddling around with his lute strings. Like Ignatius, I seem to be a cop magnet even when I’m technically not doing anything wrong so I had some fun with this.

I guess you could say I’m “taking requests” but more so, taking random comments from mutual followers on social media and using that as an excuse to create or upload things I already would have given an excuse or possibly would have gotten around to otherwise.

I was homeless but had a library card so the first time I read Confederacy of Dunces I was couch hopping, squatting in abandoned (in some cases soon to be condemned) properties until I got busted and they put me up in a hotel after I started quoting the Tennessee Code Annotated law for “adverse possession” so they just put me up in a hotel until the homeless shelter in town had a room for me. Anyway, I remember reading that book, reading it aloud often. “The problem of space” still haunts me. I’m not homeless now but not quite financially stable so worrying about what will happen to my books, notebooks etc. if I end up having to resort to a quick or forced exodus is something that still resonates quite strongly.

If you enjoy this or my other videos, political rants, narration of short stories and occasionally some guitar pickin’ you can follow me on YouTube. I’m KunstKrieg KinoPix Studios but may be shadowbanned because sometimes even searching for the direct title of my videos along with my channel name I still have to scroll and scroll to find a video if it can even be found without going to my own account and checking the video library there.

BBC To Make Biopic of Jimmy Savile, Prolific Child Predator They Protected for Decades

Jimmy Savile wasn’t just on Top of the Pops, he was top of the world for decades. He was one of the most famous and beloved celebrities in England, close friends with Prince Charles and Andrew, hung out with the Beatles. But of course, after his death, the rumors that had circulated for so long were finally admitted to be so.

one of many photos of Jimmy Savile playfully cavorting with the Fab Four

Up until then, Jimmy Savile’s hundreds of victims often found themselves disbelieved by authorities, staff at the hospitals he visited for “charity” and even sometimes the parents of the children themselves. Steve Coogan, who plays the character of daft news presenter Alan Partridge, will play the part of Savile in “The Reckoning.” But has there really been any reckoning for the BBC itself? They banned Johnny Rotten in the 70s for years just for mentioning that “everybody knew what that cigar muncher was up to.” To profit off of a story they were complicit in seems at the very least tasteless.


Most recently, I saw it reported that some victims will be on set and meet Steve Coogan “in character.” Meeting victims to ensure sensitivity to their stories makes sense, but in character?! Savile is mentioned multiple times in my book Pedogate Primer: the politics of pedophilia.


Pedogate Primer is available in paperback from Amazon, Barnes & NobleTarget and Powell’s Books and a few other shops worldwide including Australia, Taiwan and Poland. The audiobook, narrated by myself, is also for sale at Audible.com. If you’d like a review copy of the audiobook, contact me through the contact form or email at kafkaguy@gmail.com and I’ll send you a promo code. You can also check out several podcasts and radio shows I appeared on to talk about the book in the  interview section.

Shaman Claus: The Secret Psychedelic Roots of The Santa mythos

Yule, yellow snow, psychedelic mushrooms and the true meaning of Christmas

Originally published in two parts for Gifts From Earth on December 30, 2015 Philip]

Boy, the Holidays just aren’t what they used to be. What happened to those old holiday traditions that brought the community together like stringing popcorn on the tree or singing carols through the neighborhood or recycling your amanitas infused urine for the community to enjoy for the Solstice celebration. Yes, that’s right, our current “Santa Mythology” is steeped in some strange lore that we’ll begin to explore in this story.

Shaman Claus

The origins of both medicine and religion have some similar roots. Many of them reach thousands of years back to Tengerian tradition of Shamanic myth, magic and medicine. The Tengerian Shamanic tradition of Siberia was also influential on the traditional Christmas celebration and the Santa Claus mythos connected to it, as we’ll see today.

Among these cultures are the northern Tungusic people, Lapps, Evenki and other Siberian tribes.  The Evenki were predominantly hunter-gatherers and reindeer herders as were most living in the harsh region. The Evenki people’s word “saman” meaning “one who knows the spirits” is the root of the word describing the “medicine man” type religious healer in pre-modern cultures.  An important part of the religious and healing ceremonies of the Tengerian Shamanic medicine man was the use of “fly agaric” the Amanitas muscaria mushroom, better known colloquially as a “red-cap” or “toadstool.”



If you’ve seen pictures of giant red warty mushrooms in fairy tale drawings or little white spotted mushrooms in Byzantine art featuring Jesus then you’ve seen the amanitas mushroom. Interestingly enough, it’s not called a toadstool because toads are known to sit on it, rather because of a constituent that also happens to be found in “eyes of newts”(or Bufo Alvarius, the Sonoran Desert Toad) and other witchy sounding formulas.

Santa Claus (with his reindeer and red cap and stockings) is ” a modern counterpart of a shaman, who consumed mind-altering plants and fungi to commune with the spirit world,” according to Dr. John Rush,  anthropology instructor at Sierra College in Rocklin, Calif.

In order to prepare the amanitas mushroom (which can be a potent toxin) the mushrooms were placed in a large sock and hung over the hearth to dry. Stockings, anyone? The “gift of the mushroom” was often found beneath pine trees. This could also be an explanation for the “red, white and green” colors being associated with Christmas celebrations. The Shaman himself, when giving the gift of muscaria throughout the frozen Siberian Winter Solstice would appear dressed as a giant amanitas (with a red cap and white dots on his suit).

Even today in Lappland (a portion of Finland inhabited by the indigenous Sami people) diminutive reindeer herders wear brightly Christmas colored clothing and herd reindeers. That “elf” style hat, has a name you know. Yes, it’s a “Lapplander hat.”

Lapplanders in traditional garb

Stay tuned next as we explain why the reindeer games were really gross, how modern civilization may not have existed if some brave souls hadn’t eaten the yellow snow and why we put a star on an evergreen and bring it in the house once a year.

 In part I of this article, we started exploring the shamanic roots of the Santa Claus legend and how it ties in to the Northern European, Siberian and Arctic circle tribes such as the Sami and Evenki. The Sami, also known as Laplanders, are a nomadic Finnish tribe who just happen to wear brightly colored elf-style clothing and pointy hats when they’re not herding, you guessed it, reindeer, are responsible for a lot of the original Yule celebratory rituals that bled into the Christmas tradition that took place right around the same Solstice period.

To understand the importance of these Yule rites, you have to consider the harsh conditions in Siberia and Arctic Finland. This is the land of the midnight Sun. The (quite literal) dark side of the midnight sun is the end of Autumn, the shortest day of the year is Winter Solstice and around this time the sun nearly disappears almost entirely for that shortest and darkest day of the Solstice that marks the beginning of the Yule celebration.

As we mentioned in the last story, long  before the story of the Magi giving gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, the Yule-tide season was known in these cold, dark areas as a time of celebration and gift giving. The gift in question was generally the amanitas muscaria mushroom. The redcap fungus with the distinctive white spots were known as the “fruit” of the evergreens and firs they were often found under. Mystified by the mycelial network forming without any apparent seeds being dropped, this phenomenon was occasionally referred to as a “virgin birth.”


Now we already showed how the traditional Santa legend was heavily shaped by Shamanic tradition, right down to drying the amanitas muscaria mushrooms in a large stocking over the hearth and bringing evergreens indoors to fend off the cold and dark. Imagine now, it’s another cold Finnic or Siberian winter in pre-history. You’re cold and the longest days only last for a few hours of dim, blue light here this close to the Solstice. All of a sudden you see what looks like a giant red cap mushroom heading towards you on a reindeer, chortling in the sheer ecstasy (ex- stasis, meaning to literally come “outside” of one’s self) of shamanic delirium. He hands you a stocking full of fire dried red cap mushrooms in a stocking. Considering the high likelihood of seasonal affective depression being exacerbated by the harsh Arctic condition, the idea of Yuletide gift giving was helpful for getting through the harsh winters.

The “gift” of the amanitas was generally discovered under certain varietals of evergreens (yes, the same sorts of pine and first that many of us still haul into the house at the end of the year) echoing the “Yule log” rite which purportedly staved away the frosty, near perma-darkness of the darkest point in the year in the land of the Midnight Sun.

Prancing and dancing reindeer? Yeah, we got those. In fact there’s a possibility that discovery of the filtration of the amanitas toxins through urine was an important part of the tradition. Reindeer and tribesmen alike would share in a mug of “recycled” amanitas. Which gives a whole new meaning to the old saying about the “yellow snow.”

The Arctic reindeer herding tribes who used amanitas noticed that the reindeers enjoyed chewing the fungal “fruit” of the evergreens after which they got “frisky” and seemed to dance and prance around for a while. This coupled with the fact that amanitas hallucinations often involve delusions of flying and size distortion makes a lot of the rest of the seeming non sequiturs in our Holiday tradition make a little more sense.

So, elf clothing, reindeer, red caps with white puffballs, gift giving, taking trees indoors and stockings full of gifts, eh? Yes, it’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas, isn’t it? Stay tuned as we continue our exploration into the ethnobotanical roots of the traditional Christmas celebration soon. In our next story we’ll cover more parallels and connections between the pre-Christian pagan Solstice traditions and the more modern holiday traditions that occurred as a result.

[redacted] Presents Douglas Fairbanks covers Hollywood

During the half a year or so I lived in Burbank, I hooked up with a pop culture publication that covered mainly geek related stuff (comics, anime, etc.). I wrote a couple pieces for them but sadly they said my “style” didn’t fit. Last I checked even the couple pieces they did publish are no longer on the site. Sigh, oh well… Anyway, just now found some of those drafts while going through old files I had saved on a backup drive. In case you’re wondering, yes, while in Hollywood I went by my middle name though surprisingly few people picked up that I share a name with a classic silent film star. But enough with intros, here goes…

Author’s preliminary note: What follows is what will hopefully be the first segment in a continuing series presented by [redacted] wherein which your faithful (and social phobic) narrator braves the dangers of the high seas of high social anxiety to bring back the whole dish (you’ll have to bring your own spoon, then just scoop away). 


(authors secondary preliminary note: It really helps if you read this piece in Robert Evans’ (RIP) voice in your head That’s what I do anyway, I can’t stand my own voice.) 

Part I: Alfred Hitchcock/Twilight Zone art show opening night at the Bearded Lady’s Mystic Museum

So here goes nothing, I guess. Or maybe not, maybe worse than nothing, maybe something that (to paraphrase Metallica by way of Lovecraft by way of Schopenhauer) “that should not be.” Here it is though, the premiere “episode” (oh, don’t worry, I have issues too!) of the tales of an awkward, hayseed rube with a (no longer) famous Hollywood star’s name. This is all by coincidence and on a technicality of course, but regardless, here we go… [redacted] proudly presents? No, that’s not right I don’t speak for [redacted] , I just write for them, ok fine then, “[redacted] presents: Douglas Fairbanks covers Hollywood (and region).” 

Now we can begin at the beginning, but I think we should jump to the middle directly after. So to start where it starts: we pulled in, I noted to my sister Jane how the most unfortunate consequence and inconvenience of covering a show (even worse than digging the grime from under my guitar finger picking nails) is actually making a damn appearance at the thing. I couldn’t have known at the time the foreshadowing inherent in the story I’d relate as I was dropped at the curb under the flag in front of the Bearded Lady’s Mystic Museum in the Magnolia district of the beautiful Burbanks of Hollywood.

I’m digressing already aren’t I… so backstory then story. I’m certain it was the first or second in the “I hate Bonnaroo” series of articles, my coverage of the Bonaroo music and arts festival for Ghettoblaster or Spacelab. Anyways, the story was of the “salem k for hire gig” that I managed to opt into (and as a result, out of, the show). Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t paying the salem k for hire. They got press passes and for that I got paid. 

42 minutes though should be just enough time without being in any danger of being too near. Besides it’s the meaning of life, the universe and EVERYTHING according to Douglas Noel Adams and whenever I’m in Burbank or Hollywood I go by my middle name Douglas (making me the third Douglas Fairbanks in Hollywood on a technicality, despite the fact most people don’t remember the first and the ones that remember the first don’t remember the second and I’m no relation except in legal name to either) it seems to fit somehow. 

There’s quite a line though and it’s crawling at a snail’s pace.

Act II

Time lapse: Ext: sitting across the street from the flag to wait out my ride and get at least a bit of distance between myself and “the madding crowd.” It’s 9:02, we’d scheduled our pickup for 9:09 at the flag in front of the Bearded Lady Mystic Museum, unfortunately (or fortunately rather, both for us, the museum and the story) the line was lengthy enough to preclude our entry by our aforementioned pickup time and leaving a shaggy dog story in place of my entry at opening night as sitting outside the show, as fate would have it, would be the show for us this night. Luckily however for any of us within the Magnolia district region for the next two months the Alfred Hitchcock and Twilight Zone art show is only OPENING this slightly chilly Saturday evening. The chill to the air opening night only added to the chilled backdrop as “the line procedure” enacted itself, slowly, horrifyingly in a vicious creep of humans huddled against the perfectly manicured, but still eerily gnarled trees.

ACT III

Somewhere and somehow (and we can’t even blame our penmanship this time) we lost a Frank Zappa reference somewhere in between our equally anxious and excited head and my fumbling fingers. I’ll blame the balancing act I was forced into trying to maintain hold of my little, blue sketchbook and the laptop. The laptop was to keep time so I’d know when my ride was to arrive. More on why I didn’t just bring a cell phone like some kind of sane person in just a bit. 

In between the precarious balancing act and the note taking I was able to get lost in myself somewhat at least but this far from elegant procedure was making me painfully aware of my none-too-swanlike carriage amidst “the beautiful people” of classy, but quaint Burbank. 

After my phone’s Freudian crack (I Freudian dropped it a couple months ago and have Freudian “forgotten” to replace it since as I believe I get beeped and buzzed plenty by way of the laptoblet (it’s a 3 in one, I manage to put up with the top screen since it has a fold-away physical keyboard). If I might digress just a moment, (I know this makes my second major digression at this point, but the sooner I acclimate you to them, the sooner I can stop worrying about indulging myself in them) I personally fear that the touchscreen “technology” will fare us as well as broom technology has. Just think, brooms can’t be much newer than the wheel, but have you ever seen a dustpan that didn’t leave some line (however thin). 

There it was, just the distraction I needed to get my mind off of the space I was taking up in the world (and the inevitable scene that follows) I found just the distraction I needed in the form of a pup sized pup tent outside of Pimp my Pooch (immediately upon seeing this name my mind jumps to Zappa’s live cover of “Call any vegetable” off of Billy the Mountain, specifically to the line in which the Mothers’ chorus queries: “Where can I go to get my poodle clipped in Burbank? At Ralphs vegetarian poodle clipping…” Well now I’ve seen one more thing…

And that was it for the night. Apart, of course, from receiving a pin, commemorative even, and free only to the first 100 to make it in to the show, or at least the first 99 and me. I entrusted my entry fare to some ladies in front of me in the line (specifically earmarked for purchase at the Mystic Museum, but they looked trustworthy). Ah, but the night was still young, even if I didn’t feel as young as I evidently look. 

To be continued in part II