Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

Alfred M. Hubbard: Mystery Man

Welcome to LSD week at Horkheimer's Conceptualization of Critical Theory. This is Alfred M. Hubbard. He is one of the most mysterious men I have read about recently. Here are 10 facts about him, but are they all really true? Dunno. Everything I read about him has more question marks than answers. Lots of links are embedded below in case you want to read more. A warning: You can't poke at Alfred M. Hubbard without unleashing a swirling, busy, buzzing beestorm of Conspiracy Theories. I'm not sayin' they're right, I'm not sayin' they're wrong, there are just a lot of them. Mostly, as I read about him I kept wondering: Did somebody make this guy up?

1) When he was very young--late teens--Alfred M. Hubbard invented the Hubbard Energy Transformer, aka "atmospheric power generator," aka "perpetual motion machine," aka a "radioactive battery" that kept a boat moving for three days. There was a lot of excitement about this potential energy source, he sold half the patent for $75,000 to the Radium Chemical Company of Pittsburgh, PA, and then POOF it vanished.
2) During Prohibition, Alfred M. Hubbard was a prominent member of a gang of bootleggers in Seattle. A taxi-driver, he had a "ship-to-shore communication device concealed in his trunk" and used it to help safely smuggle booze in from Canada. He went to prison for 18 months. He also might have been a government Prohibition agent. See what I mean about confusing? By the time he came out of prison, it appears that he had joined the OSS (now the CIA).
3) Alfred M. Hubbard "smuggled weapons into Great Britain before America's formal entrance into World War II. He sailed ships under cover of darkness to Vancouver, where they were refitted as destroyers bound for England, and he avoided matters involving official neutrality—some eighteen months before Pearl Harbor—by becoming a Canadian citizen. As America's man in Canada, Hubbard handled millions of dollars, filtered through the Canadian consulate, which financed covert operations in Europe."
4) Alfred M. Hubbard made millions in uranium, had a Rolls Royce, an airplane, and lived on an island that he owned (Daymen Island, apparently) off the coast of Vancouver. This did not make him happy. It might make me happy, but it did not make him happy.
5) Alfred M. Hubbard got really, really, really happy because he got really, really, really into LSD. In fact, he got so very into LSD that he was apparently called the "Johnny Appleseed of LSD." He gave Aldous Huxley LSD, as well as 6,000 other people including--he claimed--the Pope. You can read more about this in a book titled Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream by Jay Stevens. At the same time, he really hated Timothy Leary. A lot.
6) Alfred M. Hubbard might or might not have worked for the CIA and been part of the CIA's notorious Project MKULTRA which you would really need to read about to believe--unless you are naturally wary of the government, have a suspicious mind, and/or already know about it. If you are interested, apparently a small amount of documentation exists about the project after "the fire."
7) Alfred M. Hubbard appears to have gotten his doctorate in biopsychology from the University of Kentucky--although everyone who has written about him seems rather skeptical about this "doctorate"--and he went to work at Hollywood Hospital in New Westminster, Canada where he used LSD to cure wealthy patients--some of whom were Hollywood (U.S.) movie stars and prominent politicians (e.g., members of the Canadian Parliament) of alcoholicism, drug addiction, and psychological burn-out.
8) His last big effort was to get funding to use LSD with people with cancer. That fell through.
9) He died in a mobile home in Casa Grande, Arizona when he was 81 years old.
10) Who the hell really was this guy? And, why hasn't somebody made a movie about him?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Prohibition Fun Fax

1. During the Prohibition, some people believed they could make the alcohol in antifreeze drinkable by filtering the antifreeze through a loaf of bread. They were wrong. Very, very wrong.
2. A Los Angeles jury that heard a bootlegging case was arrested after it drank the evidence to "find out whether it contained alcohol." The bootlegger was released due to lack of evidence.
3. During Prohibition, anti-alcohol activists paid a scholar to rewrite the bible and cut out all of the references to booze.
4. Anti-alcohol activists also insisted that Jesus drank grape juice. Somehow, it's not as impressive to turn water into grape juice. I can do it with a frozen can of Welch's. Whatever.
5. Anti-alcohol activists were almost thwarted by 1 Timothy 5.23 in the bible: "Use a little wine for thy stomach's sake." But, then they claimed the bible was telling people to rub alcohol on their abdomens.
6. Alphonse Capone: Hey! Let's go explore his vault! Member of the youth gangs: The Junior Forty Thieves, the Five Points Juniors, and the Five Points Gang. Earned the scars on his face by "inadvertently insulting" a woman when he was working as a bouncer (he asked her if she was pregnant). Made $60ish million off the Prohibition. Opened a soup kitchen and gave away clothes during the depression. One of nine children: Umberto, Vincenzo, Raffaele, Erminio, Salvatore, Mafalda, and "Rose and Matthew." Rose and Matthew? Huh?
7. Prohibition lasted for 13 years, 10 months, 19 days, 17 hours and 32.5 minutes--the historians counted every single moment because they couldn't drink and they were bored. It was repealed December 5, 1933.
8. There are still at least 500 dry counties that do not allow the sale of alcohol throughout the U.S.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Prohibition Photo Gallery

Before the Bud Girls, There Was Just...Bud (would you buy a drink from this man?)
"I don't know nothin' 'bout runnin' likkah outta Canada. I'm just an importah of goods. Like them little maple candies."
Now that's what I'm talkin' 'bout. A fox with a fun flask. They should have a "Prohibition Barbie" with a fun flask. Like an American Girl doll. Sort of."It ain't a "speakeasy," it's a supper club. Where's the supper? It's...coming." ("Speakeasy" derived from the need to speak softly about such a place in public or when ordering liquor inside it. They could have been called shhkeepitdowners, but that was seen as less catchy at the time. Go know.)
Early Prototype Party Girl--"Pour me another one!" spirit shining through the near-impenetrable force field of her mink burkha.
Oh, I beg to differ. Poor, dear Mr. Booze. Man, America looks like she's on the rag.
You bet they did.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Billy Sunday's Anti-Mr.-Booze-Fu

Creepy. I find early tent evangelists fairly creepy. And fascinating. Fairly fascinating. This is evangelist and media sensation Aimee Semple McPherson in action. In her teens, she was an agnostic. Then, she married a Pentecostal minister and went on the "Glory Trail."
She knew how to work it. She had her schtick:
Lots of movies about her. Character in Elmer Gantry based on her. Went to the ocean, disappeared for 12 days, everyone thought she was dead, and then she came staggering out of the desert with some wild kidnapping claims. Hmm. In the newsreel footage at right, she tries to make a humorous speech about prohibition's hypocrisy--kinda cool--but appears to be more intent on playing with the head of her fox stole. Creepy. Fascinating. But, this is keeping me from the Anti-Mr.-Booze-Fu of Billy Sunday.

Billy Sunday was obsessed with "Mr. Booze." Before he was, though, he did time in an orphanage. Former pro-baseball player for Chicago, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia:
Pro-women's suffrage, pro-sex education, anti-child labor, included blacks in his revivals, even when he toured the deep South. Supported Roman Catholics and Jews. Anti-evolution, anti-card playing, anti-movie going. Most of all, anti-"Mr. Booze."Here are Billy's thoughts on sin: "I'm against sin. I'll kick it as long as I've got a foot, and I'll fight it as long as I've got a fist. I'll butt it as long as I've got a head. I'll bite it as long as I've got a tooth. And when I'm old and fistless and footless and toothless, I'll gum it till I go home to Glory and it goes home to perdition!"

Granted. That is catchy. Yet the thought of a fistless, footless and toothless Billy gumming sin gives me the heebie-jeebies.

So, let's forget all of that and enjoy a brief sampling of Billy's Anti-Mr.-Infrastructure moves.

Everybody was Mr. Booze Fightin'!
Those kids were fast as lightnin'!
In fact it was a little bit frightnin'
But they fought with expert timin'

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Lamont's Believe It Or Not! Prohibition Week

Early temperance activism brings us a prime example of unwitting reverse psychology.
This gaggle of gargoyles belonged to the Women's Christian Temperance Union. The WCTU is still very much alive and sourpussing around. They have a Web site, craft primitive posters and are plotting to churn out a series of position statements on such topics as "the hemp" and "the snuff" (a concern since 1874). Tragically, their FAQ does not contain answers to my most urgent questions. For example: Must I be a woman to belong to your organization? Must I be Christian? Must I be temperate? And, of course: Have you realized that it's better to use Swedish stewardesses as spokesmodels?

They forgot to note that absinthe makes the heart grow fonder.