TIMOTHY LEARY One Original Revolutionary


Barry Yvonne; Dr. Tim Leary in his backyard in Beverly Hills 1996
Back in 1990-96 I was touring the US in a small RV towing a trailer with Servo-Drive Bass Tech 7's & then for PAS in a large diesel pusher bus, doing demos for sound companies, contractors, and places like Disney World (Water's of the World firework show, the avalanche lift at Thunder Mountain, Haunted Ghost House) , Universal Studios (T23D, the Earthquake ride, King Kong's walk, Back to the Future)  and Las Vegas landmarks (The Mirage Volcano, Treasure Island pirate ship battle, and some of the top discos).



I attended a Whole Earth Catalogue Convention in San Francisco and ran into a friend from Chicago - Yvonne - who was there with Timothy Leary. Following a great dinner that night, Tim invited me to come stay at his home in LA and I was there for 2 weeks while doing some business at Universal City. It was a very interesting time. 

A few years later I was in Reno NV for a convention sponsored in part by the Intellibeam manufacturer from Austin TX

High End was sponsoring a retro - history of lighting event featuring the old Joshua Light Show from the 70's at Fillmore West, Wavy Gravy of the Hog Farm from Woodstock, and Dr. Timothy Leary. Tim was in a fairly late stage of cancer and I found him at the Peppermill in Reno. He had disappeared from his High End handler after they had some difficulty with his hotel reservations. I told the High End president that since I knew Tim and he was comfortable with me, it would be my pleasure to get him to his appointed appearances on time.

Barry, Timothy Leary, and Tim from High End in Reno NV. 

Most people do not know that Tim attended West Point Military Academy prior to going to the University of Alabama.  Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy was the DA in Dutchess County NY when Tim was using The Millbrook estate, later described by Luc Sante of The New York Times as:
the headquarters of Leary and gang for the better part of five years, a period filled with endless parties, epiphanies and breakdowns, emotional dramas of all sizes, and numerous raids and arrests, many of them on flimsy charges concocted by the local assistant district attorney, G. Gordon Liddy.
Tim told stories about Millbrook and the Liddy ordered raids. Liddy did not know that Tim had a friend inside the DA's office who tipped him off when these raids were planned. Tim would gather interesting looking plant material and fungus in the woods and put it in odd containers on the mantles and furniture so the searchers would spend time and money testing benign substances.  

Separately, along with E. Howard Hunt, Liddy organized and directed the burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate building in May and June 1972. After five of Liddy's operatives were arrested inside the DNC offices on June 17, 1972, subsequent investigations of the Watergate scandal led to Nixon's resignation in 1974. Liddy was convicted of burglary, conspiracy and refusing to testify to the Senate committee investigating Watergate. 

Later in life after prison, Liddy and Leary did a number of joint appearances in speaking engagements on college campuses. 

These events are described in books like FLASHBACKS & THE POLITICS OF ECSTACY

Tim left Millbrook with his family to travel to Mexico. He wanted peace away from the open situation at Millbrook to write his books. The family arrived in Laredo, TX late in the afternoon and crossed into Mexico after Tim had instructed everyone to throw out any pot or other substances. In Nuevo Laredo. they learned that visas could not be obtained until the following morning and accommodations in the border town were less than appealing. They decided to cross back into Texas to spend the night. On the bridge between Mexico and US Customs, Tim's daughter discovered she had failed to throw out a very small (less than 3 grams) quantity of pot. No way to throw it out in full view of the US officers, she put it in her pants. 

Although they had been in Mexico less than 5 minutes, the US Customs people knew Tim's reputation and proceeded to cavity search everyone in the car. Tim claimed ownership of the 2-3 grams of pot and was charged with importing a controlled substance. This is what would later find Tim in prison. 



When Tim decided to run for Gov of California against Reagan, John Lennon wrote COME TOGETHER as Tim's campaign song. This was too much for Ronnie and the day after Christmas in 1968, when Timothy Leary was arrested in Laguna Beach, CA. for the possession of two  roaches. Having been arrested before for violating the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, a law that Leary himself would help overturn the following year. People convicted under the Marijuana Tax Act weren't exactly busted for drugs but rather tax evasion. Reagan ordered his AG to put Leary on trial for the roaches and he was convicted and sentenced to serve a term at San Luis Obispo. 

On January 21, 1970, Leary received a 10-year sentence for his 1968 offense, with a further 10 added later while in custody for a prior arrest in 1965, for a total of 20 years to be served consecutively. On his arrival in prison, he was given psychological tests used to assign inmates to appropriate work details. Having designed some of these tests himself (including the "Leary Interpersonal Behavior Test"), Leary answered them in such a way that he seemed to be a very conforming, conventional person with a great interest in forestry and gardening. As a result, he was assigned to work as a gardener in a lower-security prison at San Luis Obispo from which he escaped in September 1970, saying that his non-violent escape was a humorous prank and leaving a challenging note for the authorities to find after he was gone.

The story of Tim's escape from San Luis Obispo is wild - particularly heard from Tim himself. A power and communication line ran over the top of a gravel road adjacent to the razor wire-topped fence surrounding the barracks. A convenient tree next to the barracks allowed access to the roof where the cable could be reached. One night after roll call, Tim scaled the tree, grabbed the cable, and pulled himself over the fence. He was hanging from the wire when a truck carrying a single guard turned off the highway and onto the gravel road. He was caught he thought.

But as luck would have it the guard bent forward and lit a cigarette just at the point where his headlights would have revealed Tim on the wire. 

After the truck passed, Tim continued to the pole on the opposite side of the road and dropped to the ground. Down at the highway, the pre-arranged signal had a rescue car driving north with the left turn signal on. When Tim saw the approaching vehicle he revealed himself. At a gas station just North of the prison, Tim's prison clothes were put in a southbound car and were left some 30 miles south of the prison in a restroom at a small market. When discovered the authorities assumed Tim was on his way back to Mexico. Instead, he was taken to British Columbia where his WEATHERMEN rescuers had I.D. to match an altered appearance of jet black short hair and thick black-rimmed glasses.   

Tim then spent a few years in Europe after leaving Algeria when he could not stomach more time with Eldrige Cleaver. Informed that the Swiss were about to turn him over to US authorities he boarded an airplane bound for Sir Lanka - a country that offered asylum. But the airplane landed in Afghanistan for refueling and US authorities who knew his travel plans boarded the plane and delivered him back to California. Facing a total of 95 years in prison, Leary hired criminal defense attorney Bruce Margolin. He was sent to Folsom Prison and put in a cell next to Charles Manson. Leary was released from prison on April 21, 1976 by Governor Jerry Brown.

Staying with Tim in his home became my place every time I was in LA. I met many interesting people there since his place was a mecca for artists, musicians, and friends. Winona Ryder (Tim's Goddaughter), Terrence McKenna, Billy Idol, Negativland (the band sued by U2's record label for using "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" samples), and Ram Dass (Richard Alpert). Tim was working on CHAOS AND THE CYBERCULTURE with R.U. Serious (editor of Wired) most of the time I was there. 
Ram Dass with Tim 
Tim was a lot of fun but vastly more interesting intellectually. He loved putting a small bud on a Ritz Cracker with a bit of cream cheese and pepper jelly. He was intolerant of bullshit and a stickler for proper use of the language. I recall his direct method when someone would use "the mind" or "the brain" as interchangeable as an example. He was animated and humerous -without any outward sign of anger over his treatment. Being sentenced to 20 years for 2 roaches and less than 3 grams of pot and then 95 years for escaping the first injustice gave him ample reason. Our US government spent millions trying to vilify, chase, and incarcerate him for his opinons. He was a political target who's exercise of free speech threatened Nixon and Reagan and their pathetic war on drugs. Tim knew that LSD was not the weapon the CIA attempted to make it and that it had enormous potential to aid in the treatment of the mentally diseased. 

Dr. Timothy Leary was heroic and like John Lennon, he was a talent and an intellect that we should study and enjoy. Tim was a delightful friend. . 



Tim spoke about his death and he considered cryogenic preservation but finally decided to have his ashes carried into orbit and scattered in order to fulfill the Moody Blues vision expressed in TIMOTHY LEARY'S DEAD - no no no He's outside looking in.