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Strange Trip: Artist takes LSD in 1955, while doctor interviews him on film
06:15 am



LSD Bottle
The study of the psychological effects of LSD was fairly widespread in the United States and the UK during the 50’s and 60’s producing thousands of pages of research. Cary Grant, Federico Fellini and even Bill Wilson, cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous, all took LSD under very legal psychiatric supervision in the 1950’s. 

The U.S. Central intelligence agency also conducted thousands of experiments with LSD and other drugs on subjects both willing and otherwise during the 50’s and 60’s through a clandestine operation code named MKUltra. The CIA was testing the effects of LSD in part to find out if the mind-bending hallucinogen could be used as a thought-control substance. MKUltra came the attention of the general public in the mid-1970s. Hearings and a collection of declassified documents have revealed all sorts of insane mental experiments like subjects being observed while tripping for up to 77 straight days and dosing random people without telling them that they were about to have their minds blown and then subjecting them to hours of interrogation.

Is the clip below a “CIA sponsored trip” as the YouTube poster’s title indicates or just one of many psychological experiments conducted openly by U.S. medical practitioners before LSD’s official ban? I’m not sure, but it certainly gives an indication of the bizarre clinical nature of what these government sponsored “psychological evaluations” might have been like. The subject in the video, entitled Schizophrenic Model Psychosis Induced by LSD 25, at least seems to be perfectly willing to go along with the test in this case.  He reveals himself to be Bill Millarc, a 34-year-old painter from Los Angeles. As the video begins, the doctor, Nicholas A. Bercel, M.D. of the University of Southern California Medical School’s Department of Physiology (himself the very first American to drop acid, in 1951), gives Bill a dose of 100 liquid micrograms of LSD and begins to narrate Bill’s trip while conducting an interview throughout the entire experience. (Interestingly, the opening credits state “Material furnished through the courtesy of Sandoz Pharmaceutical Co.” Sandoz is the same Swiss company for which Albert Hoffman was working when he both famously and accidentally discovered LSD’s hallucinogenic effects back in 1943.)

Before long, Bill starts to report a few changes in perception. The rug’s pulsating. He has a very pleasant feeling of nausea. He feels like he’s hearing the singing of angels. It’s a very odd thing to watch as the guy tries to stay focused enough to answer the doctor’s questions as he starts to go further and further into “the zone.”

Many of us have seen the drawing circulating around the Internet where people make art under the influence of various controlled substances.  Here, the doctor does something similar by having Bill draw a charcoal rendering of a person summoned to the room early in the trip. Later, as Millarc seems to be just about flipping his lid, the doctor asks him to draw the same person.  As you can probably imagine, the second picture’s a little different from the first one.

Truth be told, I haven’t done acid in years and, thankfully, all of my experiences were eye-opening ones, but I can’t imagine tripping balls and having the doctor in this clip breathing down my neck the whole time. At one point the doctor claps his hands to snap Millarc out of what seems to be a particularly revelatory moment and Millarc becomes obviously annoyed:

“I was getting somewhere and you interrupted it.  I was sort of getting somewhere I suppose.”


Posted by Jason Schafer | Leave a comment
Now might be a good time to talk about Gloria Steinem’s time as a CIA asset…
07:28 am


Gloria Steinem

By the way, the other woman in this photo is Dorothy Pitman Hughes, an amazing activist who has received neither the press nor the institutional acceptance of Steinem
Last week, 79-year-old feminist icon Gloria Steinem was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. During her acceptance speech, she graciously declared,“I’d be crazy if I didn’t understand that this was a medal for the entire women’s movement.”  Should you be under the impression that this award is indicative of a tacit endorsement of feminism by either the the Obama administration or even the U.S. Government, allow me to brush you up on a little feminist history.

In 1959, Gloria Steinem attended the communist-sponsored World Youth Festival in Vienna as the head of the Independent Service for Information, a CIA front. The ISI had been set up at Harvard to send young anti-communist Americans to attend the World Youth Festival, where they could defend the US against communist critics and report back on their Marxist counterparts. Steinem was in charge of recruiting those young anti-communists.

Currently, Steinem is an honorary chair of Democratic Socialists of America (my comrades and former employers). The primary initiator of DSA, Michael Harrington (then of the Young People’s Socialist League), was also offered a free trip, but declined. Though he was a socialist, and critical of communism, Harrington refused to go unless he was also given license to criticize capitalism. Apparently Ms. Steinem felt no such moral conflict.

Before I’m dismissed as the Alex Jones of feminism, Steinem’s time with the CIA is public record. In the video below (yes, I know it’s from a conspiracy theory nut), she discusses her time as an employee. Now, I’m not accusing Gloria Steinem of being some sort of secret government fake feminist spy, but I do think it’s important to remember that we boner-killing, man-hating witches are not a united front, and we certainly aren’t all working towards the same goals. Some of us worked for the CIA for four years, others of us want to smash capitalism, and guess which ones get medals from the President?

Steinem may think she’s accepting an award “for the entire women’s movement,” but she sure as hell isn’t accepting it on my behalf.

Bonus: Gloria Steinem poses with Terry Richardson...

Special thanks to Phoenix on this one!

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The CIA funded the famous animated film of Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ you saw in school
01:14 pm


George Orwell

Until videotapes replaced 16mm film projectors in the classroom in the mid-1980s, there was a very good chance that if you were British or American, that at least once, if not twice or more, you were going to see the animated 1954 version of George Orwell’s Animal Farm during your education. I can vividly recall being absolutely incredulous during a post-film discussion in high school, that the teacher we had seemed to have no idea, as in none at all, that Animal Farm was quite specifically a satire of the Russian revolution and the rise of Joseph Stalin. After I raised my hand to object and explained, no doubt with the cocky annoyance of a teenaged autodidact, that “Old Major” was a Karl Marx/Lenin figure, that “Napoleon” was Stalin, “Snowball” was Trotsky and so forth, she blithely dismissed what I said (she clearly had no idea of what I was talking about and so therefore had nothing to add) and remarked that “it could be one theory.”

No my dear, that would be the only fuckin’ theory. If you think American public schools are bad now, I put it to you that they’ve always been pretty shitty…

Animal Farm was directed by the husband and wife animation team of John Halas and Joy Batchelor. It is considered one of the greatest British films, something akin to a “serious” work from Disney. The film does not follow the events of the book very closely, especially the “hopeful” ending that Halas felt necessary to tack on. Orwell’s book ends with the animals numbly resigned to their exploitation by the porcine politburo in cahoots with the humans. This was considered too bleak and Halas wanted an upbeat ending. “You cannot send home millions in the audience being puzzled,” he said about the film in 1980.

But there is an interesting back story of how Animal Farm came to be made that most people are probably unaware of: The most famous British animated film ever made was in fact financed by the American CIA in an effort to encourage a negative view of the Soviet Union.

In 1951, using American taxpayer dollars, the CIA’s Office of Policy Coordination carried out obtaining the rights to the book from Sonia Orwell, the author’s widow, in an operation run by future Watergate criminal E. Howard Hunt. Two members of the Psychological Warfare Workshop staff who were working in undercover in Hollywood made the arrangements. To thank Mrs. Orwell, the CIA arranged for her to meet actor Clark Gable.

Hunt chose as the film’s producer, Louis De Rochemont, the creator of the famed “March of Time” newsreel journalism films and De Rochemont had final say over all creative matters (Hunt worked for De Rochemont when he was younger). Over 80 animators worked on the film, including three Disney animators who were not credited, probably because they didn’t want to piss off Uncle Walt. Two of them went on to work on Yellow Submarine and Watership Down.

Vivien Halas, the daughter of the film’s directors, believes that her parents were innocent of knowing that the CIA was involved with the project:

“I don’t believe that my parents were aware of any CIA involvement at the time. Frances reminded me that, in the early 1950s, the CIA was not regarded with the same scorn as today. My father dismissed the idea, but my mother felt annoyed.” John Halas and Joy Batchelor would go on to do the Jackson 5ive and The Osmonds cartoons. Louis De Rochemont became paranoid about the CIA bugging him late in his life.

The film was completed in 1954 and distributed worldwide the following year, the first British animated feature ever to be so widely seen. Prints were made for schools and libraries the world over by the United States Information Agency (USIA). If you are over the age of 35 and saw the film in school, there is a very high likelihood that US taxpayer’s dollars paid for the print you saw. The animated Animal Farm, due to the whole “pigs are unclean” thing, was also thought to be effective anti-Soviet propaganda in the Middle East.

On the flip-side, the Soviet spin on Orwell’s 1984 is that the book’s nightmarish depiction of constant state surveillance was about everyday life in America.

This is all so Orwellian, it’s making my head spin…

Read the full story in Orwell Subverted: The CIA and the Filming of Animal Farm

The cartoon that came in from the cold (The Guardian)

How Big Brothers used Orwell to fight the cold war (The Guardian)


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Anthony Burgess and the Top Secret Code in ‘A Clockwork Orange’

Death often inspires the most remarkable hyperbole. At the memorial service for Anthony Burgess in 1994, novelist William Boyd eulogized the author of A Clockwork Orange as “a genius,” “a prodigy, a daunting and awesome one,” who “would compose a string quartet in the ten minutes he allowed himself between finishing a novel and writing a monograph on James Joyce,” whose “polymorphous abilities are genuinely amazing.”

High praise indeed. Yet, Mr. Boyd wasn’t finished, Mr. Burgess, he said, was “one of our great comic novelists.” Boyd gave, by way of example, that off-used line from one of the Enderby novels. This was the line with which Burgess proved (allegedly for a bet) he could write a sentence where the word “onions” appears three times.

‘Then—instead of expensive mouthwash—he had breathed on Enderby—bafflingly—(for no banquet would serve, because of the redolence of onions, onions) onions.’

Hardly a knee-slapper, rather the kind of literary snobbishness that epitomizes Burgess, and by association Mr. Boyd.

Burgess was low comedy. He was for the cheap fart jokes, like Dudley Moore when competing against the loquacious comic invention of Peter Cook on Derek and Clive, or like the trademark raspberry (“Bronx Cheer”) used by Goon Harry Secombe when confronted with the manic genius of Spike Milligan.

Burgess’s idea of comedy was to have a dog called the n-word (The Doctor is Sick), or a “hero” poet (Enderby) writing his verse (blast) on the toilet; or where Shakespeare is cuckolded by his brother and catches the clap from his “Dark Lady” (Nothing Like the Sun)

Though I like Burgess, I would hardly call his work comic. Too often his books present an author more interested in flashing his learnedness to an audience, rather than his imagination—which is why his books lack emotional resonance, and his characters rarely have an interior life.

Burgess always wanted to be seen as smarter than everyone—when readers pointed out to the master the mistakes in his magnum opus Earthly Powers, Burgess claimed he had deliberately included these errors to see who would discover them, which is like ye olde Thelwell cartoon of the riding instructor who when thrown by his horse, asked his pupils, “Which one of you spotted my deliberate mistake?”

Perhaps aware of this lack, Burgess was usually quick to take offense—watch any interview and he types himself as the victim, the Catholic in a oppressive-Protestant society, a northerner in a London-centric world, a student from a red-brick university rather than the hallowed groves of Cambridge or Oxford. Burgess is Jimmy Porter, full of petty grievances against the world. Which all makes for an interesting character, and author, but not a great one.

Burgess’s best known novel is A Clockwork Orange, which became an international success once it had been filmed by Stanley Kubrick. Burgess came to hate it and told Playboy in 1971, of all his books it was the one he liked least. But without A Clockwork Orange would anyone have taken an interest in Burgess?

The secret code contained in Burgess’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Tim Weiner: Dark Secrets of the CIA
01:03 pm



Tim Weiner on the dark history of the CIA, including the recent revelation of CIA suicide agents.


(Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion)

Posted by Jason Louv | Leave a comment
CIA’s Lost Magic Manual Resurfaces
11:30 am




The CIA has released its official secrets of magic (stage magic, that is, don’t get any ideas) in a just-published book. Now THAT sounds like an excellent holiday present for quite a few people I know. From Wired:

At the height of the Cold War, the Central Intelligence Agency paid $3,000 to renowned magician John Mulholland to write a manual on misdirection, concealment, and stagecraft. All known copies of the document ?

Posted by Jason Louv | Leave a comment
CIA Releases Iran-Contra Documents After 20 Years
04:57 pm


Jello Biafra
Oliver North


After 20 years, the CIA has finally released Iran-Contra documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act. Better late than never, I suppose. See docs and analysis here.


Posted by Jason Louv | Leave a comment
C.I.A. Chiefs Ask Obama to Stop Abuse Inquiry
06:59 pm

Current Events




Posted by Jason Louv | Leave a comment
How the Soviet Menace Was Hyped
07:36 am





When you read something like this—of course you suspect and even expect the CIA and governmental intelligence agencies to lie, it’s A GREAT AMERICAN TRADITION—it really hits home that the fucked up state of the world didn’t arrive overnight. Is the mess we’re in now all George Bush’s fault? The blame can go back a lot further than Bush, truly, but you have to ask yourself what this country would be like today without the bank-breaking—and pointless—military build-up of the Reagan administration. Would the national debt be where it is today if not for the fact that the CIA systematically LIED about the Soviet threat? Would we, f’rinstance, already have national health care like every other major democracy????

They deliberately and consistently lied to the nation, as if it was for our own good? What infuriating nonsense!

A recently declassified study on Soviet intentions during the Cold War identifies significant failures in U.S. intelligence analysis on Soviet military intentions and demonstrates the constant exaggeration of the Soviet threat.

The study, which was released last week by George Washington University?

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Spook Country: The Wonder Years
12:58 pm



One night at 3 AM, while contemplating other, possible career options, I found myself on the CIA’s website and noticed they now have a section “just for kids.”

Welcome.  We?

Posted by Bradley Novicoff | Leave a comment