A Review: Dr. Feelgood By Lertzman and Birnes

Dr. Max Jacobson, John F. Kennedy And Amphetamines

by

R.E. Prindle

Jacobson On Right

Jacobson On Right

Lertzman, Richard A. and Birnes, William J.:  Dr. Feelgood, The Shocking Story Of The Doctor Who Changed History, 2013, Skyhorse Publishing

The outstanding characteristic of 1960s New York is that the city was awash in amphetamines.  The whole city was cranked up.  During the sixties methamphetamines were legal.  Over the counter preparations under various names from major pharmaceuticals had been available from the thirties all through the fifties and sixties as pep pills, diet pills, alertness pills, what have you.

By 1960 the dosages being administered by Feelgood doctors had been changed from minimal to not only maximal but suicidal.  Behind the change were the Feelgood doctors.  Chief of these was the Jewish German expatriate doctor Max Jacobson.  He was abetted by many others, most notably John Bishop aka Dr. Roberts and Robert Freymann aka Dr. Robert of Beatles fame.  Between just these three they distributed perhaps millions of mega doses, primarily to notable figures in politics and entertainment.

As near as can be determined the treatment was conceived by Max Jacobson in his native Germany in the early thirties.  Max was born in 1900.  At seventeen as an untrained assistant he was working in hospitals filled with horribly wounded war casualties.  One can only wonder what effect such horrors might have had on a seventeen year old brain.

During the Weimar period Jacobson became a full fledged doctor.  At the end of the decade he found a use for methamphetamine combined with the emerging discoveries in vitamins.

Amphetamines had first been synthesized by the German chemist A. Edeleano then refined to methamphetamines by A. Ogata of Japan in 1919.  In 1929 Smith, Kline and French began to commercially market amphetamines under the trade name of Benzedrine.

Vitamins began to be discovered and organized in the 1920s continuing through the thirties, so that by the early thirties Dr. Max Jacobson was able to combine amphetamines along with vitamins and such old standbys as monkey glands, types of blood serum and whatever else was handy to formulate his miracle drug and panacea for the world’s ills.

Before he left Germany the Nazis, so we are told, demanded he turn over his miracle formula to them which the authors inform us he did.  So then the logical conclusion is that Dr. Theodor Morrell used Jacobson’s amphetamine/vitamin formula to treat Hitler causing his psychotic reaction and inability to deal with Germany’s war problems.  Thus in the History Channel’s very interesting segment in which they sneer at Hitler’s use of amphetamines they are actually sneering at the Jewish Doctor Jacobson’s magic formula for eternal youth.

But by 1935 Smith, Kline’s Benzedrine began its phenomenal success so that during the Second World War all the combatants were distributing amphetamines to the troops.  The troops of course had no idea what the pills were and if they had it wouldn’t have mattered.  In that context though my step-father served at Guadalcanal, one of the horror spots of a horrendous war.  In one of the few times he discussed his war experience he did mention that the Army used to distribute these pills (he didn’t know what they were) that were meant to keep you alert and awake but he didn’t like the effect and refused to take them.

The bombers over Europe more or less were compelled to use them while in today’s air force pilots have to sign a disclaimer so that if they refuse amphetamines their flight commander can disqualify them for a mission

Mad Max left Germany going first to Czechoslovakia  where he realized his precariousness, then for Paris and finally he fled to the security of the United States with his medical bag and a plan to turn on the world, an early day Timothy Leary.

To place Max in context, while Max acted as an individual he was part of the Jewish collective or in today’s terms, the diverse Jewish Culture.  As a Jew he believed himself one of the elect superior to the other.  Thus he had the desperate need to excel while at the same time wishing to be considered as one of the ‘movers and shakers’, the great politicians, the movie stars, the authors, the entertainers, the luminaries of the world.

The only thing he had to put him there was his concoction which in his more sober moments, if he had any, must have seemed of dubious value even to himself.  Max was nothing but a snake oil salesman, for that reason he had to stay high on his own nostrum lest reality should intrude.  To maintain the mirage he concocted an incredible persona to match his dubious nostrum.  Yes, Max was hooked on amphetamines. Obviously the vitamin doses as huge as the amphetamine masked the effect while moderating the damage of the amphetamines.   Max was an improbable youthful appearing ‘72 after forty years or so of amphetamines, vitamins, monkey gonads, and lack of sleep.  God bless America, hey?  The first one is free and after that….

Max set up business in New York, the celebrity capitol of the world.  Max was Jewish and it appears that his early converts were too.  If you led a strenuous life as celebrities tend to do you deplete your energy pretty quickly.  It can be exhausting.  So, you drop into Max’s office, he plunges the needle in and presto!, the Zippity Doo Dah Moment.  The sun is shining and you go dancing out of the office feeling like a million and high as the Fourth of July.  You go back, you go back again and then you can’t keep from going back.  You tell everyone about the source of your well being.  They go see Max and pretty soon all the Beautiful People in New York, the US and the world are beating a path to Max’s door.  The 707 that made the Jet Set possible was the magic carpet into the future of post-1960.  The whole era just made you high.  Things got big, bigger and biggest.  Money began to multiply by magic.  It was the Sixties, that Magical Time.  John Sebastian asked:  Do you believe in magic?  Sure, why not?  It was the Sixties and magic was happening.  And then to be flying on amphetamines as you boarded the Magic Carpet to place you in the fabled Jet Set…Wow o Wow!  Far out, man.

By the end of the fifties Max had been striding through the stars like a giant Nimrod for so long he was only in a very tenuous touch with reality.  Perhaps he is so out of it he doesn’t know what he looks like.   Perhaps he didn’t create the persona; perhaps it was the inevitable consequence of never having to come down.  John Bishop was the same way.

There is no order to anything he does.  There are no precise measurements of his ingredients.  He even gives instructions to his untrained assistant to mix up the medicine.  I mean, wow, here let me inject you with this stuff, you might like it.  The bottles of ingredients are just strewn around the office higgledy piggledy.  Max looks like he never washes his hands, nails encrusted with dirt, chemicals or whatever, monkey balls, who knows, human placenta, this guy was scary, a living psychotic reaction.  Boy, howdy!  Yeah but Eddie Fisher called him Magic Max because of that muddle.

What a reputation that overcame filth, a bloodstained filthy smock, crap all over the floor, but few turned away.  Oh well, there was that guy who got an injection and went blind for three agonizing days.  When that guy came around he hung up his works and changed his way of living, changed the things he did.  Life saving.

But then, the Eureka Moment Max had been waiting for came in 1960, that magical year, when Chuck Spaulding came to see him to see if he could help his Presidential candidate friend John F. Kennedy who was feeling low and having voice problems.  He wasn’t sure he would be able to speak in his upcoming debate with Richard Milhous Nixon.

Boy, Max Jacobson meets John F. Kennedy.  I saw that movie, but they called it Dracula Meets Wolf Man.  John F. Kennedy and the Curse Of The Pharaohs.  Thanks to Max he was elected; we got him whether we liked it or not.  Watch Max rack ‘em up, first Hitler and now JFK.  Good thing they took away his license.

Let’s pause for a moment to say something of our authors.  Robert Lertzman published Screen Scene magazine while currently he is a director of an internet television network.  William Birnes resume includes being an editor, publisher, literary agent and television producer.  They have conducted numerous interviews while compiling an extensive bibliography.  The have done their homework.

Their primary concern in Dr. Feelgood is to provide an accurate reason for removing Kennedy from the presidency.  They’re not too much concerned with the aftermath of the erasure.  While the Kennedy material is germane to my interests, I am more interested in Jacobson’s motivations and consequences of his experiment in mixing amphetamines, newly discovered vitamins and human and other animal glands.  The glands identify Jacobson as pure quack.

Max first injected Kennedy before the first Nixon debates in which the consensus was that Kennedy annihilated Nixon.  Nixon really lost the election at that time.  Nineteen-sixty was worlds away from the period between the war when vitamins were new.  Max had had plenty of time to tinker with his formula obviously coming up with many variations.  During the forties and fifties Max had been self-medicating and trying any new variations on himself.  He had been flying then for fifteen years or a little more and would continue to so do until his death at the relatively advanced age of 79.  Thus, while addicted to meth Max had enough self control to manage his usage below destructive levels.

Given that self control one hesitates to call him insane still he obviously was not of this world although he had learned to function very well in it.  Eddie Fisher considered him his god while it is likely that Max confused the difference between himself and god.  While patients describe him as kindly that must have been so only when they treated him with the proper deference or, even, reverence.  His special séances after hours when celebrities gathered around in adulation waiting for that special mixture was confused by Max as love rather than addiction.  As will be seen, when the proper ‘respect’ was not shown him he could lash out viciously to the point of murder.

It seems that one would have to be very careful in one’s speech around Max lest one inadvertently dropped a remark he found offensive.  At that point Max reached into his bag of recipes and gave one a stunning rebuke.

Times had changed drastically since the thirties.  The Nazis were gone in fact but not gone from the minds of Max and his fellow Jews.  Since the thirties the holocaust had been executed, Israel created as a nation and a country, the war of independence fought and won as well as the ‘56 war.  In terror of another holocaust the Jews had initiated a campaign against the anti-Semitism they knew existed in the hearts of Americans.  Movies such as Gentlemen’s Agreement as soon as 1947 began the pursuit of any anti-Semites that might exist although there had never persecution of the Jews in America.

After the ‘67 war, exhilarated by their six day victory they decorated themselves with yellow stars flaunting them openly although unlike in Germany the yellow was gold.  Aggressive groups antagonistic to anyone, led by Kahane and going by names like the Jewish Defense League and the Jewish Defense Organization were terror groups not unlike the Brown Shirts of the Nazis.

Max acting as a Jewish national cultivated both the ‘Nazis’ of ‘Amerikkka’ and the Communists.  Thus he was manipulating both the US and USSR for Jewish purposes.  As he was being closely watched by the FBI and the CIA and most likely the KGB those organizations must have known or suspected Max’s triplicity.  His office was sacked more than once.  It is probable both US and USSR agencies were involved.

So, in 1960 Max turned JFK on.

If Max’s formula was appropriated  by the Nazis then it is probable that Hitler’s Dr. Morrell either used Max’s formula or based his own variation on it.  Perhaps monkey balls were difficult to come by in wartime Germany.  As vitamins were that new back then it is quite possible that Max was the first to come up with his amphetamine cocktail.

If Morrell did appropriate Max’s formula then it is probable that both he and Max genuinely believed it was the fountain of youth and well being unaware of the destructive results of long term use.  I have read that the Germans did discover the harmful affects and discontinued use of amphetamines among the troops while Japan and the Allies continued to use them.

Max then, in effect, destroyed Hitler and the German war machine.  Now he turned his drug on the destruction of Kennedy in which he succeeded as only he knew how.  The insignificant Jacobson’s effect on history was then out of all proportion to his personal insignificance.

The first injection was such a lift for Kennedy who was actually a walking dead man that he was hooked from the first shot.  Kennedy was a very sick man.  He had severe osteoporosis so that his lower back pain alone would have influenced his ability to think clearly and work.  In addition he had Addison’s disease in which his body failed to synthesize corticosteroids.  He had to inject serum every day of his life to artificially replace those steroids or he would have died.  He should never have run for the presidency.  Max’s shots allowed Kennedy to function in an apparently normal way; twist the night away there in Camelot.

Max took full advantage of the situation frequently flying to DC from New York to inject JFK.  He even gave him a supply of vials to self medicate.  Jack then became very dependent on his Dr. Feelgood to the point that he couldn’t function without him.

Remember that Max was playing both sides against the middle while probably favoring the Communists with whom the Jews were closely associated, the majority of any national CP being Jewish.  As a caretaker of Kennedy Max was in a position to direct the course of US-Soviet politics.  This occurred during the 1961 Khruschev-Kennedy summit meeting of June 4th , 1961.

Between Kennedy’s first injection for the September  ‘60 Nixon debates and summit meeting of June 1961, a bare nine months, Kennedy had become addicted to amphetamines or psychologically dependent on Jacobson to relieve him not only of pain but anxiety.  Kennedy had reason for anxiety in his face to face confrontation with the Soviet Prime Minister.  Joe Kennedy, Jack’s father, had been a dominating father, so that Khruschev, old enough to be Jack’s father may have represented a threat to Jack’s ability to resist  his influence.

Jack then insisted that Max be with him in Vienna.  Now, as one believes as I do that Max was more sympathetic to the Communists than what he would have considered ‘Fascist Amerikkka’ it is not inconceivable that some sort of arrangement had been made with Khruschev to make Kennedy more manageable and suggestive by drugging.

Perhaps coincidence but Max gave JFK at least three shots just before he met Khruschev.  As Max had many different formulae, as will be seen in the sequel, it is possible that he gave Kennedy, in addition to an overdose, a shot that left him open to hypnotic suggestion, to make him a Manchurian Candidate.

In any event Khruschev virtually turned Kennedy upside down and bounced him on his head.  Even JFK was totally embarrassed by his performance.

Kennedy’s persistent reliance on Jacobson angered his Attorney General brother Bobby.  He had several vials analyzed discovering the composition of the formula Jack was using.   Subsequently then when Max and his associate Mike Semak appeared at the White House Bobby intercepted them and told them in no uncertain terms to clear out and not bother his brother again.

Max remembered Bobby’s wrath as his saying:  You kikes get out of here; go back to New York where you belong.  I doubt it.  That may have been what they thought they heard projecting their own prejudices on Bobby but I doubt that that is what Bobby said.  Remember Max had been on amphetamines for decades and Semak was probably also high.  They were dealing with subjective reality to say the least.

Now comes the reason that the authors think Jack was offed.  In the first place Jack is believed to have confided classified info to Marilyn Monroe as small talk that she used to threaten Jack and Bobby to get her way.  The authors believe that may have been the reason she was killed.

Jack became so desperate for Max’s shots that he went crawling back to him in New York to beg forgiveness and another shot.  Correct, the President of the United States humiliated himself and us by begging a quack doctor for his worthless nostrums.  Max then took his vengeance on Jack for Bobby’s humiliation of himself.

He gave Jack a formulation that caused the President of the United States to strip off his clothes and run naked through the halls of the Carlyle Hotel.  It took another doctor to medicate Kennedy to return to the planet.  In the meantime, Max, one imagines, cackling madly had fled the scene.

Max and other Feelgood doctors such as John Bishop, aka Dr. Roberts, tried out different formulae on their clients.  The performer Cherry Vanilla who thought Bishop experimented on his clients once gave her a shot that caused her to strip and actually run down the street.  As that only happened once to her as well as once to Kennedy the shot must have been of that special formula.

The authors believe that the Carlyle incident threw the fear of god into high government officials who trembled at the thought of what Kennedy might do during a psychotic reaction especially with the nuclear arsenal at his command.

As Kennedy also sent his secret service men out to round up street prostitutes for his pleasure there was the fear that he could be programmed to divulge information to planted Soviet prostitutes.  Their next step was obvious.  The welfare of the country demanded it.  Unfortunately LBJ was vice-president and we got what we got.

But JFK was merely the tip of the iceberg.  Max had hundreds if not thousands of clients.  The authors mention many of them and publish a list of some of them at the back of the book.  Let’s assemble a group of his clients closely connected to Kennedy.  This is interesting:

Jack Kennedy

Jacqueline Kennedy

Judith Exner

Frank Sinatra

Sam Giancana

Marilyn Monroe

Mark Shaw

Peter Lawford

Robert Goulet

Jack and Jackie were both users.  Jackie’s family believed that the lymphoma she contracted came as the result of Max’s injections and was responsible for her death.  Jack invited disaster and received it.

Sinatra, Kennedy and Giancana were involved in discussions or negotiations of some kind. Sam Giancana was the front man of the Chicago Outfit.  The three men shared the two women Judith Exner and Marilyn Monroe.  Exner was a courier between Sinatra and Giancana and Kennedy.  She didn’t realize what she was in the middle of until it was too late, or knew it but couldn’t figure an out until later.  She chose the way of being overweight and therefore undesirable to find an exit.

Monroe was caught in a savage crossfire as she chased John Kennedy but was used by Giancana and Sinatra to punish Kennedy.  The authors believe that because she threatened to reveal classified information imparted by Kennedy that CIA/FBI did away with her.

That they all used Max is fairly remarkable.  That leaves it open as to whether Max received and transmitted information or whether he extracted information for his own purposes.

Mark Shaw who was CIA passed as a photographer, not surprisingly receiving commissions from insider publications to build his reputation and cover, was also a pilot who flew Max back and forth, DC and New York.  It seems likely he was murdered by Max who gave him a hot shot.  Lawford and Bishop and Davis had subsidiary roles while Goulet probably functioned as a handyman.

All and all Max’s role on the Kennedy administration was astonishing.  He had certainly injected himself into the center of things.  Not too bad for a kosher butcher’s son.

Perhaps even more astonishing was the effect he had on New York City.  As he probably originated the amphetamine/vitamin cocktail while introducing it to New York in the forties it follows that the Feelgood doctors, including Hitler’s Doctor Morrell in that group perhaps spuriously, were following his example.

One isn’t surprised then to find Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick among his clients.  Andy, so he said, visited Jacobson once, didn’t like it and never went back.  Of course Andy was creating his own amphetamine scene preferring Obetrol himself,  as well as was Bob Dylan another heavy amphetamine user.  Already in competition with Dylan for top spot in Bohemia Andy probably didn’t want to enhance Max as a competitor for No. 1 while possibly becoming dependent on him.

Edie not only used Max but also John Bishop and also Freymann.  Bishop also used his own medicine.  The amphetamines must have loosened one’s attention to detail because Bishop ran the same sloppy type of operation as Max did.

In Bishop’s case Cherry Vanilla, she who ran naked down the street, believed that Bishop used his clients as guinea pigs trying out different formulae.  Her opinion was that you never knew what was in the works.

One is surprised that Max wasn’t stopped by the CIA, by stopped I mean cold.  If they would kill Kennedy I don’t see why they wouldn’t off Max.  Perhaps he had powerful protectors.

He was allowed to operate unimpeded until 1972 when the medical board brought charges against him.  It took three years to lift his license but by 1975 Max lost the right to practice legally although he still operated out of another doctor’s back room.

However without his license Max was no longer an MD thus being unable to maintain his amphetamine fueled fantasy notion of himself.  Max faded quickly dying in 1979, although one year short of eighty he couldn’t have gone on much longer.

What is truly remarkable is that after fifty years of amphetamine use his body was intact and his mind functioning.  If he had any psychotic episodes they went unreported.  Either Max did know a magic formula that allowed him to operate outside reality or he led one damned charmed life.

The amazing thing is that the biographers and historians give Max such scant notice except Lertzman and Birnes in this important and even entertaining book.  Great reading and well worth the price of admission.  Get yours today.

Great Groupies Of  The Sixties Series

A Review

Cherry Vanilla: Lick Me

by

R.E. Prindle

Part I

Drug Culture

Vanilla, Cherry: Lick Me, How I Became Cherry Vanilla, 2010, Chicago Review Press

The sixties were the first period of excessive drug use.  Nearly everyone carried something, whether prescription or street.  How influential drugs would have been without psychedelics is questionable.  Psychedelics were legal for most of the sixties while enjoying great cachet.  LSD led many a poor boy and girl into drug use.  Live Better Through Chemistry was the parody of the motto.  LSD stories are legendary, people taking thousands of mics.  People dropping LSD daily for months on end.  Doug Dillard of the Dillards Band according to legend dropped daily for a couple of years or so.  Hendrix found in the desert crawling around on his hands and knees.  Incredible stuff.

Cherry Vanilla, nee Kathy Dorritie, certainly qualifies as a heavy drug and LSD user.  Staggering amounts.  She tells of a friend of hers who had a vial of what she believed to be pure liquid LSD.  She describes him saturating sugar cubes with it until the cubes began to disintegrate, then swallowing the cube.  I can’t comprehend the dosage.  After one massive dose she experienced a white out of her mind during which she went blind experiencing only a sense of blinding light.  She doesn’t say, probably doesn’t know, how long it lasted.  Life changing though.

Kathie was already an accomplished writer before beginning her autobiography so needed no co-writer.  I had recognized her style of writing before I read the account of her LSD intake.  LSD has an amazing effect on the mind which produces a very distinctive writing style.  Very clear, very organized, written at a very intense level with the little variation in dynamics that inevitably becomes a numbing bore, but so well constructed that it reflects the blinding light that Kathy experienced.

Tim Leary who was a major acid freak wrote some truly amazing books reflecting the LSD experience while if you want to read an amazing virtuoso performance find a copy of Stephen Gaskins Haight Ashbury Flashbacks.  These authors write with such amazing clarity and precision as to astound.

But, LSD is a totally inward experience, a complete divorce from the outside world which ceases to exist or becomes a sort of movie set.  There is such an intense preoccupation with self that even though the writing is crisp and exciting the tone becomes boring as the inner self isn’t that interesting.  The writing is on such an intense, unvarying level that there are no dynamics.  (That I’ve repeated myself means I mean it.)

The dissociation from external reality is so complete that one loses all self-consciousness, thus Kathie, or Cherry Vanilla, is able to copulate in public without any sense of embarrassment, indeed, even with a sense of liberation.  One might think she was an exhibitionist except that she is so preoccupied that she is almost unaware.

In time the inner world takes such precedence that one is unable to distinguish between the inner world of wishful thinking and the outer world of appearances.  Thus Tim Leary could imagine shrinking a few acres of earth into a small size to take with him on a space trip to other planets and believe it possible.  As if he wasn’t spaced enough.  His final fantasy was incredible enough and he was actually able to realize it.

When he died he willed that he be cremated and his ashes put in a real space ship and rocketed into space.   He’s up there now orbiting the planet every couple hours.  As his orbit degrades he will one day reenter the atmosphere as a shooting star.  Just absolutely incredible.

I don’t know how far out Kathy is but I imagine she finds it quite easy to draw a straight line from Point A to Point 9.

Now, not only did Kathy do amazing amounts of LSD but she was on the money on other drugs  too provided they gave the proper result.  She rejected heroin after a few times because it didn’t take her where she wanted to go.

She was a perfect child of the sixties even having a fine Dr. Feelgood.  One finds her memoirs less than trustworthy because she feels compelled to change names, not all, but some, we just don’t know which ones.

For instance she calls her Feelgood, Dr. Bishop.  That good doctor is the same as Dr. Roberts in Jean Stein and George Plimpton’s book, Edie about Edie Sedgwick.  Dr. Roberts is also a false name so we can’t be sure.  Perhaps Dr. Bishop is his real name but I can’t be sure.  Jean Stein and George Plimpton also quote Kathy under the name of Cherry Vanilla concerning an encounter with Dr. Roberts/Bishop that Kathy repeats here but quite differently.  Kathy’s memoirs were published in 2010 while Edie was published in 1982 so Kathy has had plenty of time to think about Dr. Bishop;  while on the other hand Stein and Plimpton appear to have used a heavy editing hand.  All of the dozens of people they interviewed sound remarkably alike so the interviews may reflect more of Stein and Plimpton’s modes of thought.  Perhaps they edited to make the text more exciting.

It is quite possible that Dr. Roberts/Bishop may have been with the CIA doing drug experiments.  The CIA was certainly active in the field at the time.  Bishop was even happy to participate as his own guinea pig.  This is an interesting topic so I am going to quote Kathy extensively as she repeats and edits her account from Edie.

By the summer of 1963 (when she was twenty) I had already become quite familiar with booze, grass, hash, coke, speed, opium, uppers, downers, and hallucinogens like mescaline, peyote and psilocybin because they were my favorites.

 

Those were just her favorites.  So in two years since she left home she had really been doing some living while at the same time performing well at her advertising job on Madison Avenue.

And then, pp 50-53:

I’m in with the in crowd;

I go where the in crowd goes,

I’m in with the in crowd:

And I know what the in crowd knows.

By Billy Page as sung by Dobie Gray

c. Warner/Chappell Music

The Jet Set and the In Crowd

Two sixties institutions

     Keeping up with the schedule I was on back then would have been impossible were it not for the drugs.  And in 1966 I got introduced to the in crowd’s newest  elixir.  Dr. Bishop’s vitamin shots.  At thirty-five dollars a pop, they were pretty expensive, but one or two a day would keep you up forever, and keep you looking fresh and vibrant the whole time.  I forget who first introduced me to Dr. Bishop.  It might have been Joel Schumacher (one of the original designers of the Paraphernalia store), whom I’d recently met at the Pines (Fire Island homosexual hangout), or Wally Clapham, a friend of Joel’s I knew from Mad Ave.  Anyway, someone had to bring you there.  You couldn’t just walk in off the street.

Dr. Bishop’s office was located on the ground floor of a highrise near First Avenue and later in a mansion at 53rd and Madison.  It was a scene so quintessentially sixties you couldn’t even imagine a doctor’s office like it today.  The clubby drug buzz in the waiting room was so dense and intense, you got high on anticipation just walking in there.  The “nurses” (none of us knew or cared if they were really nurses or not) wore seductively modern sportswear and often pulled down your pants and gave you your shot in the hallway, while the examining room might be occupied by Dr. Bishop giving someone the sixty dollar special and/or somebody “having a bad reaction.”   Everyone was always in a rush, wanted to be seen first, had somewhere to be, had a taxi waiting, whatever.  But then once they got that shot in the ass, they often couldn’t tear themselves away from the clinically and socially charged atmosphere and would get caught up in the speed rap session that was always going on among the patients.

When the taste of the iron, or whatever it was, hit your mouth, you started getting off on the shot.  And as long as the soreness in your ass lasted, your stamina pretty well lasted too, a good six to eight hours anyway.  The first half hour after the shot was dangerous, because you often got a sudden urge to shop, buy someone a gift, spend the rent money on something pretty.  And right across the street from the 53rd  Street office was a shop called Hunter’s World and, oh my God, how many elephant hair bracelets and zebra skin notebooks could anyone possibly need?….The other temptation was a nearby crystal and rock shop, where it was especially hard to resist the colorful sparklers.

Dr. Bishop had his favorite patients, especially the one male and one female he’d singled out from each sign of the zodiac.  I was his Libra girl.  I can’t believe I had a huge sense of pride about that.  It meant that, along with the vitamins and speed, my shot might get an extra dose of whatever he was experimenting with that week- things like adrenaline stimulants, niacin and even LSD.  And he’d have his favorites call him about an hour after getting a shot to let him know what we were feeling.  The guy was using us all as guinea pigs, and I thought he was some kind of savior, freeing us all from the need for food and sleep.

One night Dr. Bishop came by Aux Puces while I was spinning and offered me a free shot of something special if I’d come to his office after work.  All night at the turntables my mouth was watering at the prospect of what was to come.  And as soon as we closed I ran the two blocks over there to take him up on his offer.  As his building’s open-sided elevator rose through its day-glo painted, black-lit shaft, I felt positively dizzy with excitement.   A minute later I was alone with Dr. B. in his fabulous office space, with it high ceilings, mahogany paneled walls, dance studio, and all those delicious drugs in the cabinets.  He loaded the needles and instructed me to slap his ass, poke him fast, and slowly push the plunger on the first one.  And then he shot me up on the second.  A few minutes later, he had his fingers up my pussy and I was rushing beyond belief.

Pretty soon, I was going numb all over, even in my brain.  Then all of a sudden there was blood everywhere and Dr. Bishop just laughed and said rather flippantly, “My dear, you’re bleeding.  Maybe you should see a doctor.”  I knew I didn’t have my period and I didn’t feel any pain, but the shock of seeing the blood running down my legs made me come to my senses.  Even though the bleeding seemed to be subsiding, I just wanted to get out of there and get away from him as fast as I could.  It wasn’t easy, since he’d become perturbed and paranoid about the fact I was leaving.

I went back to Aux Puces, where the new maitre d’,  David Smith, was tripping after hours with Jay Martin and a couple of friends.  I banged desperately hard on the locked front door and, luckily, they heard me above the loud music they were playing.  My shaken state and gory story must have been a real bummer for them on their LSD high but they snapped into action immediately and got a limo to take me to the emergency room.  Turned out I had cuts and scratches inside my vagina made by a ring or more sinister object, though the doctors said no major damage had been done.  By that time the bleeding had stopped and I still wasn’t feeling any pain.  Though questioned I refused to rat out Dr. Bishop and was quickly released.  I went back to join the gang at Aux Puces, where we opened a few bottles of Chateau Lafitte Rothschild ‘60, smoked some hash-oiled joints and partied until dawn.

Let’s examine the above.  As I said Stein’s Edie was about twenty-eight years old when Kathy wrote this.  She undoubtedly read Edie so was familiar with her testimony then and as the account combines  and adds to Joel Schumacher’s and her own story it is possible she had a copy of the book before her and wrote from it.

The time she is writing about is 1966 which was the heyday of the Doctor Feelgoods.  I don’t know that a study has been done on them yet but there were apparently dozens of these guys practicing dope medicine beginning in approximately 1960.  As is well known a Dr. Max Jacobson was operating in the early sixties with an extensive elite clientele that included then President John F. Kennedy.  Dr. Jacobson even accompanied Kennedy to the  Khruschev summit meeting where he kept Kennedy loaded on these shots.  So for roughly six years New York City had been speeding along and whatnot.

At the same time the uptown Doctor, E. 87th, that the Beatles refer to as Dr. Robert was managing an extensive clientele.  Kathy refers to her guy as Dr. Bishop who is the same guy Jean Stein refers to as Dr. Roberts.  We may assume that neither name is correct.  Both Dr. Robert and Jacobson were Jewish, I believe Bishop probably was also.  In fact all, or nearly all, of these doctors were probably Jewish.

Now Kathy believed Dr. Bishop was experimenting on his clients.  If he was shooting them up with unknown drugs without their knowledge that was at the very least unethical not to mention shooting them up with amphetamines at all.  To say that no one knew the effects of amphetamines at the time is nonsense.  Amphetamines had been around  since 1887 while every army of WWII issued tablets to their troops.  Hitler’s own Dr. Feelgood kept him filled with amphetamines for years and his deterioration was obvious.  But, perhaps, more clinical observations were wanted or a more precise understanding of how large numbers of people reacted and could be controlled was needed.  Maybe they wanted to know how easy it would be to control and direct populations on drugs.

It is well known that the CIA and other governmental agencies experimented with drugs on soldiers and even to unknowing members of the civilian population.  Extensive experiments with LSD were carried on by the CIA in the late fifties and early sixties.  Stanford and UC Berkeley for instance were running programs in the mid-sixties running ads in the newspapers for volunteers as this was happening in NYC.

So who would have been the beneficiaries of knowledge obtained by these Jewish Dr. Feelgoods who had very large supplies of amphetamines, cocaine which wasn’t too common in ‘66 and was definitely illegal, LSD was just being made illegal, and who knows what experimental drugs?  It could have been conducted under the auspices of the US Government agencies who were researching mind control.  But the information most likely was going two ways- one to the US authorities, the other way to Jewish psychological ops who could draw their own conclusions for their own purposes.  Let’s face it old drugs have been made available while new drugs are invented everyday and find easy distribution so every young person has had his or her consciousness altered beyond recognition.

At any rate with all those doctors with crowded waiting rooms the buzz over New York City must have been audible for miles and miles.  And all that didn’t include freelancers like Brigit Berlin of the Andy Warhol crowd.

Edie Sedgwick: Maid Of Constant Sorrow

Edie Sedgwick, Bob Dylan And Andy Warhol

by

R.E. Prindle

 

Chapter 1

Some Enchanted Evening

 

Edie and Andy

Texts:

A movie:  Factory Girl

Sedgwick, John: In My Blood: Six Generations Of Madness And Desire In An American Family, Harper Perennial, 2007

Stein, Jean: Edie: An American Biography, Pimlico, First Published 1992, 2006 Paperback edition

www.warholstars.com A comprehensive Andy Warhol site.

The sixties was a period of broken lives.  It was the heyday of the users and the used.  It was as Donovan aptly put it: The Season Of The Witch.  It was a period when all the hounds of hell were loosed.  It may be a cliche but it was both the best and worst of times.  It was during this period that Edie Sedgwick came of age.  Edie’s tragedy was that she was used rather than a user.   She was the cat’s paw of two of the greatest users of the period, Andy Warhol and Bob Dylan.  It cost her her everything including her life.

Edie was one of the Sedgwicks of Massachusetts and they were old line Americans.  If the Sedgwicks missed the Mayflower they were trolling in its wake.  Therein lay part of Edie’s charm for the two immigrant lads, Bob and Andy.   While from Massachusetts the Sedgwicks had a notable presence in New York City and Long Island.  One might say they were venerable.  J.P. Marquand who married into the family wrote his novel ‘The Late George Apley’ about them.

In Massachusetts the Sedgwick family was famous for their burial plot known as the Sedgwick Pie.  As their legend is intimately connected with the Pie it might be proper to dwell on the Pie for its flavor.  The founder of the family back then just after the first Thanksgiving was a gentleman named Theodore Sedgwick.  He was a dynast by nature.  Hence, he bought a section of the Stockbridge cemetery and had himself buried in the very middle.  Subsequent Sedgwick burials were laid feet first toward the Patriarch in round rows emanating outward like the wedges of a pie, thus the name Sedgwick Pie.  It was said that on judgment day when reveille was blown the Sedgwicks would all arise facing the founder, Theodore.  Pretty story.

Over the centuries following Theodore’s death the Sedgwicks continued to prosper there always being enough money to maintain their position.  There also arose the fantastic legend of the Sedgwick Curse, as indicated by John Sedgwick’s subtitle.  The idea was that the Sedgwicks were a weak stock and that there was an abnormal amount of madness and suicide in the family.  Considering the extent of the family I think this was a romanticized vision of themselves.  Not that there wasn’t a sort of madness and a few suicides but hardly more than in any several hundred member family over a few centuries.  Nevertheless in Edie’s generation this fatalistic notion took firm hold.   It’s almost as if the generation rose to embrace the notion.  Her biographers speak of it in awe as though the Curse of the Pharaohs had morphed into the Curse of the Sedgwicks.  Jean Stein, the author of Edie, seems entranced with it and even John Sedgwick, Edie’s younger cousin,  in his memoir seems possessed by it.  Feels he’s got it.   Slim chance for being true in my estimation.

For an inconsequential girl Edie’s life has been well examined.  There are actually several books written about or featuring her while the legacy of movies she appeared in and movies about her is fairly extensive.  Most of the early information on her life here is abstracted from Jean Stein’s biography.  Stein, herself, is accused of writing the biography in a fit of sour grapes because Warhol wouldn’t make her one of his superstars.  No matter, it is an exceptional book of its kind.

‘Edie’ is presented as an oral biography in the voice of many participants.  However as all the voices are pretty uniform it would seem as though the editor, George Plimption, is pervasively evident.  George Plimpton, otherwise a nobody, began his career as a celebrity in the sixties and the seventies by becoming a professional old line American, nearly the last of a vanishing breed.

He clowned around by trying out for various professional sports teams then writing books about the experience.  Thus he became the American Man Of Letters touted on his website and a well known celebrity who could actually measure his press releases in inches.  He and Stein put together an excellent more than readable book in their biography of Edie Sedgwick.

Edie was the daughter of Francis Sedgwick of Long Island, NY, he otherwise being known as Fuzzy.  The family left New York for Santa Barbara, California just before Edie was born so she knew nothing of New York or the East Coast.  In California she led what would seem to thave been an idyllic life.  The family lived on a 3000 acre ranch which was exhanged after oil was found on it for a much larger ranch and finally an 18,000 acre ranch where she spent her teens.  This was a functioning cattle ranch with ranch hands and the whole works.

The Sedgwicks did not attend either public or private schools being rather schooled by private teachers along with a few neighbor children.  Thus unfamiliar with the world she may have had a very diffiuclt time adjusting to real life people.  She probably did not have time to do so before she was thrown into the boiling cauldron of New York City.  Francis, or Fuzzy, was a difficult father; his children blamed him for their shortcomings while Edie said he had sexual relations with her.  She then was, or believed herself, mentally unbalanced by the time she arrived at Radcliffe to begin college.

She may very well have been unbalanced but where I grew up I didn’t know anyone who didn’t have mental problems, parents or children, and by the time of high school graduation I was literally a basket case, nearly immobile.  Yet, so far as I know, everyone got on with their lives including myself.  Seems to me everyone has to work themselves out of that hole as best they can.

Of course, drugs were becoming a definite problem by the time Edie showed up in Cambridge in the early sixties.  It one reads Raymond Chandler novels, for instance, drugs were a problem in the thirties and forties and further reading will show that they had been a problem for decades.  Most narcotics became regulated in 1910 in the US, still, new pharmaceuticals were being developed constantly and some of them including the psychedelics were not covered by narcotics laws at the time.

The first wonder drug I heard of was Miltown about 1950.  I was too young to understand but Miltown was the Valium of its time, a panacea for all forms of stress, the stressed and housewives began to line up for prescriptions.  By 1960 the list of users must have been stupendous.

Along with the barbituate downers came the uppers.  First Bennies and then amphetamines.  My first knowledge of the pervasiveness of drugs was 1956 when I wrote a high school essay on LSD.  Of course glue sniffing was endemic in high school.   Then in 1958 in the Navy was the first time I saw people ingesting bennies and heard of peyote, mescaline and the actual use of LSD.  By the early sixties I knew a lot of people who were smoking pot and popping pills but I was never a user myself.  I watched drugs put a lot of people over the edge.  In most cases they weren’t aware that they were freefalling.

So, an unsettled socially naive Edie moved into a fast, loose society in Cambridge.  While I can’t see much in her from the pictures apparently she was a sensation live, possibly influenced by her seemingly casual attitude toward sex.  I don’t know about on the East Coast but on the West Coast girls were either more circumspect or I was out of it.

Edie was picked up by a homosexual crowd and attended many fetes in that milieu.  At the same time the other folk scene, that of Boston was burgeoning with Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band, Eric Von Schmidt and Mel Lyman being the standouts.  Dylan came up to Boston at this time to meet them where, I believe, he first became acquainted with Bobby Neuwirth who was hanging out around the art and folk scene.  Certainly Edie would have come to Neuwirth’s attention at this time.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he  and Dylan discussed the ‘hot chick’ from a distance at that time.

At some time Edie became erratic enough in her parents’ eyes that they decided to commit her to an insane asylum called Silverhill near Boston.  This to me seems very extreme.  Apart from Edie’s not doing things as they saw fit I can’t find anything in her behavior to have her committed.  I mean, I’ve seen some pretty zany behavior and after drugs really got rolling in about ’67 half the population could have been put away with the other half waiting in line.

At some point you have to let your kid go while parents always have to take responsibility for their behavior at least for the first few years after they’ve left the nest until they work through those parental childhood traumas.  The Sedgwicks had the money so as long as the offspring weren’t financially out of control they at least deserved their allowance.  Edie was what would have been described as an airhead.

But then I’m sure that with the asylum experience the cure is worse than the disease.  Edie was repeatedly given electro-shock ‘therapy.’   Electro-shock ranks right up there with the pre-frontal lobotomy as the most bizarre psychiatric treatments.  Talk about Hitler and the Nazi doctors!  If the Nazis had practiced frontal lobotomies and electro-shock you can imagine the Liberal howling from the West.  It would have made the flap over Eugenics a mere whimper.

I can’t imagine what electro-shock does to the mind and nervous system.  When I was four I was playing with an open socket.  When I connected the jolt was such I lost consciousness.  Fortunately I was repelled being thrown completely across the kitchen floor where I became alert again after a few seconds but still buzzing.  Plus, I remember it as though yesterday.  Imagine being strapped down and having those volts sent coursing through your existence.  My god!  For what purpose?  That’s going to change your psychology?  It doesn’t, so why they kept at it is beyond me.

Since Edie wasn’t insane when she checked in the good doctors of Silverhill checked her out as sane.  Somewhere along the way she met some guy named Chuck Wein who believed himself to be an impresario of some sort who was going to take Edie to New York and make a star of some sort of her.  Toward the end of 1964 then Edie and Chuck showed up in Manhattan.

Edie moved in with her grandmother on the Upper East Side.  Good address.  Enviable.  She had come into an inheritance of 80,000 dollars which she proceeded to squander in six months.  In 2010 dollars that might be the equivalent of from 300,000 to 500,000 dollars.  One had to have a careless disregard for money.

In 1964 the sixties had started moving, approaching maximum velocity.  The Beatles had splashed down in January of ’64 followed by the Rolling Stones, Animals, Dave Clark Five and a host of others including Freddie And The Dreamers which was the beginning of the hip explosion as rock and roll morphed into folk rock.  It doesn’t matter who was the first with folk rock it was inevitable.  The electric bass and guitars along with better and more powerful amplifiers ever evolving  there was no other way to go.  I mean, Duane Eddy and Eddie Cochran were proto-heavy metal.  And they were exciting bands.  The music had been loosening up for several years.  Tequila by The Champs was fairly revolutionary in its day.  But then the recording companies and artists put a lot of effort into trying to astonish us with new styles and forms and frequently did, every week.  Mule Skinner Blues by the Fendermen, a folk song  was done in a folk rock style long before Bob Dylan went electric and set us all on our ear.  That song has probably never been surpassed.  Besides by 1964 the whole folk thing was passe and worn out, boring, apparently the word probably hadn’t reached Peter Seeger and that bunch in New york yet.

Each day was a new adventure where you had no idea what you would see or hear.  Andy Warhol’s soup can is a case in point.  The arrival of the Lovin’ Spoonful in Edie’s big year of ’65 was a revelation.  As far as I’m concerned, the most influential band of the era.  If Yanovsky hadn’t given up his dealer there’s no telling how far they could have gone.  From there everything accelerated to super sonic speed.  There was even a group called the Super Sonics.  Songs like Telestar.  Men even walked on the moon.  So, while the external world was racing with the moon the internal, personal world ran along at the same slow pace unable to keep up with developments.  No one knew what was going on except in their small mental space.  Thus, even while Dylan and Warhol were succeeding spectacularly in their own spheres life was racing past them making them passe while there was no way they could keep up.

In that atmosphere Edie arrived in New York City and spent her money.  And then the money was gone.  As ’65 progresseed her parents became disenchanted with her life style so they cut her allowance way back, and then, off.  But that’s getting ahead of our story.  What Chuck Wein’s plan was for turning Edie into some sort of star or celebrity isn’t clear.  She did get some modeling jobs for magazines, probably because of her name, but they were put off by her drug intake and her corresponding erratic behavior.

 

Bobby Neuwirth

Then Bobby Neuwirth, the legend goes, noticed she was in town.  by this time Neuwirth was playing Robin to Dylan’s Batman, his sidekick in other words, and he notified Dylan that ‘there was a hot new girl in town.’  In the movie Factory Girl, sometime in ’65  Neuwirth showed up at the Factory and said:  Come with me.  Someone wants to meet you.’  Edie leaves with this total stranger, who cons her into paying the fare, escorts her back stage at a Dylan performance to be introduced to the Star with whom she is dazzled.

That’s one version.  According to Jean Stein in Edie in December of ’64 Neuwirth invited her down from the Upper East Side to the Mafia club, Kettle of Fish, to meet the folk singer himself.   Edie had arrived in NYC driving a big grey Mercedes.  Her flipped out driver crashed the car so she was using a limousine service to get about.  Accordingly her limousine pulled up in front of the Kettle of Fish, Edie got out of the car, entered the bar and contact was made.  The history of her life over the next eighteen months, the Dance of Death, began.

Dylan, then, laid claim to the dazzling girl before Andy Warhol.  Edie met Andy at the film producer Lester Persky’s a few weeks later at a party in January of ’65.  Dylan and his entourage were heterosexual while Warhol, Persky and that crowd were homosexuals.  Thus Edie began to fulfill her destiny as a pawn in Dylan’s and Warhol’s games.

Chapter 2

Never Felt More Like Singin’ The Blues

 

Dylan In Polka Dots

Who were these guys Bob Dylan and Andy Warhol and what interest could they take in this uninteresting and rather dull girl.  Interestingly both men considered themselves revolutionists.  Dylan forwarded the Jewish and Underman revolutions while Warhol spearheaded the homosexual and doubled up on the Underman.  Both men came from immigrant backgrounds.  Dylan from Jewish immigrants and Warhol from Ruthenians.  Dylan was originally Robert Zimmerman and Andy Andrew Warhola.  Dylan grew up in small town Hibbing, Minnesota, Warhol in the ‘melting pot’ of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Both developed monster grudges against American society.

At the end of ’64 both men were on the way to being of the most influential people of the second half of the twentieth century.

Dylan at twenty had come to New york with the ambition of becoming a folk singer.  Even though a not easily appreciated singer he was as close to an instantaneous success as it is possible to be.  Arriving at the beginning of 1961, at the close of ’64 when he met Edie he was an international sensation, a prolific and successful song writer.

Strangely his success was built on resentment and hatred.  The dominant characteristic of his songwriting was a rancorous bitter putting down of his society and associates.  He fairly spews hatred in such songs as Hattie Carroll, Like A Rolling Stone and Positively Fourth Street to name only a few of his diatribes.  His most prolific period would revolve around his desire for Edie Sedgwick and his detestation for his rival for her affections, Andy Warhol.

Dylan had a fixation on destroying the happiness of women.  At the time he began his pursuit of Edie he had sequestered his future wife, Sara Lownds, who he would marry in November of ’65 and who he had purloined from another man.  At the same time he was carrying on long time affairs with his first New York girl friend, Suze Rotolo and his fellow folk singer, Joan Baez.  Why this need to injure the happiness of women?

Of course I’ve read most of the important works on Dylan if not all and many of secondary importance.  Using that background, I’m going to concentrate on the movie Dylan wrote and starred in, Masked And Anonymous.  This is a very autobiographical movie showing a Dylan who had progressed little from his heyday of the mid-sixties.  Dylan believes that the journey is more important than the result so that in the various episodes he gives little symbolical vignettes of his life journey leading up to a contrived ending.  Many of the most important eipisodes and people are represented.  The promoter in the film, for instance, can be recognized as his manager Albert Grossman; the sidekick is Bobby Neuwirth etc.  I’m not going to review the movie here but Dylan gives us some insight into when and how his world went wrong.

In the movie when Jack Fate’s, Dylan’s movie alter-ego, father, who is the dictator of  ‘this god-forsaken country’, lies dieing, Fate revisits him on his death bed.  In fact that is where the ‘path’ of the movie actually leads.  Fate reminisces about his relation with father and mother.  To put it succinctly let me quote the lyrics of an old song, Freight Train Blues.  Dylan would rewrite the lyrics to this song and claim it as his own:

I was born in Dixie

In a boomer’s shack,

Just a half a mile

From the railroad tracks.

 

My daddy was a fireman

And my mama dear,

She was the only daughter

Of an engineer.

 

She could spend the money

And that ain’t no joke,

It’s a shame the way

She kept a good man broke.

Well, Jack Fate’s daddy wasn’t much better and the movie couple had an unhappy marriage which probably reflects Dylan’s view of his own parents.  As to his mother she just found Jack in the way and wished she never had him because it interfered with her happiness.  I suspect that more or less sums up Dylan’s relationship with his mother.  One can’t say for sure but I suspect that when his mother conveyed this attitude to the young Dylan it just shattered his mind and from that day forth he was one lost soul on the lost highway with the freight train blues.  Now, it is impossible to avenge oneself on one’s mother directly as mother’s are sacred as the vessel of your life.  Dylan never tried, even escorting his mother as a date to major events.  You can take it out on yourself by becoming a derelict yourself which Dylan did thereby punishing your mother or you can take it out on surrogate women.  Dylan did both.  He himself was and has been a heavy drug user and a heavy drinker.  He ruined the lives of several women including Rotolo, Baez and Edie; then, after making Sara a wife and mother, most importantly a mother,  he completely shattered her life as his mother had his.  That may have satisfied him, then again, maybe not.  Since then he has been wandering aimlessly as a ‘modern troubadour.’  Ramblin’ Jack Fate.

The period of the sixties was Dylan’s time of most intense reaction.   After that he waxed and waned but Andy Warhol was focused on an unwavering need for vengeance.  He knew how to use people to obtain his goals without actually exposing himself.  He arrived in New York in 1950 as a graphic artist where he too was an instantaneous success.  He made his mark in shoe ads where his drawing, usually described as ‘fey’, but displaying real genius at the same time, brought the customers to Miller Shoes for whom he drew.

During the fifties he was a very highly paid commercial artist designing everything from his shoe ads to stationery to book and record covers.  Usually very nice but not infrequently letting his sexual proclivities shine through.  He was alwa;ys pushing the homosexual agenda preferring to associate his work with writers or musicians from either the Undermen or those writing on those themes.

About 1960 he decided to tackle the fine arts with the purpose of detroying them.  He entered the world of painters at the transition from Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art.  He had always been a sort of pop artist with his shoe ads so he was an incrdible success as a pop artist when he painted Campbell’s soup cans.  With the soup cans he effected one of the most instantaneous and successful revolutions or transitions from one style to another, ever.  I don’t think it would be out of line to say the sixties were born in that moment.  If there is one single symbol that characterizes the sixties, for me at least, it is Andy’s soup cans.  Tomato soup can.  It enraged and energized so many people.  It has been an inspiration for me.

I can’t remember when I first saw it but I was simply stunned.  Perhaps in the pages of Time Magazine.    I don’t know whether the copying of a soup can is art but as I mused about it I came to the conclusion that the can was a sort of urban landscape.  It was something one gazed at frequently while grocery shopping, so I said, what difference did it make whether one copied a mountain or curling wave or a soup can.  I suppose the difference is that a soup can can only be done once before the joke is stale.

My favorite image of the soup can was a poster in which a soup can had a gaping hole from being blasted with a .45 automatic.  That sort of settled the arguement for me but that was as late as 1968.  Andy went on attempting to outrage us by painting duplicates of Brillo boxes and such like, Heinz Bean cans, but that fell flat.  The joke had been made, there was only one Campbell soup image.

Painting all those soup cans, he did all the varieties, must have been a tedious way to while away the time.  Then he discovered silk screening.  What a good idea.  Warhol, the child of industrial processes. I can only imagine that he thought Henry Ford and his assembly line turning out identical copies of cars was the ideal expression of art.  After all you can make a million cars, same model and make, but in painting a picture, prior to Warhol, they all had been one offs and then you needed another idea.  In that period of rapid change an idea became obsolete immediately.  Coming up with new ideas was a tough business.  Warhol could turn out an idea like the Presleys like Henry Ford turned out cars.  Wow!  Man!  The future of art had arrived.

 

Gerard Malanga

Perhaps he thought up silk screening or perhaps the idea was suggested to him by his assistant, Gerard Malanga.  Malanga thinks that’s the way it was.  At the time he was hired Malanga was already an accomplished silk screener.  Malanga was the beginning of Warhol’s actual use, consumption and discarding of people.  One might say Malanga was exploited.

Malanga took a job with Andy at the minimum wage above which Andy never raised him.  Malanga insists that he was essentially a collaborator of Warhol’s.  I am inclined to agree with him.  In the first place Andy never drew his own pictures.  He essentially had no ideas.  He had his screens made up from photos of others he found attractive.  His famous flower screen was from a purloined photo.  HIs Elvis paintings, posters actually, were traced from a promotional still.  To me that strengthens Malanga’s claim.  The screens were mechanically produced and screening is a mechanical act.  Both Malanga and Warhol manipulated the screens together.  There are films showing them doing it.

Between the two of them they produced fifty Presley images in an afternoon.  For a show at LA’s Ferus Gallery Andy shipped them a two

Malanga and Dylan

hundred foot roll of Presleys and told them to cut up the roll as they saw fit.  Collaboration was just Andy’s way.  Hence one has single, double, triple, quadruple and octuple Presleys.  I saw one display where there were twenty or more strung out for a couple hundred feet in one immense string.   Enough Elvis Presleys to go around the world three or four times were produced.  (That’s a joke, son.)

It is a good image although Andy never asked Presley or his studio for permission to use it and as far as I know never gave them a dime.  He just appropriated the image.  I can’t imagine how Andy kept the Colonel cool.  He didn’t keep the flower lady cool, once she recognized her image she sued him.  Of course, she took her image from God but God didn’t sue her.

 

Warhol and Malanga

Now, all this silk screening takes up a bit of space, these Presleys kept getting bigger and bigger, life size and then some.  Some were twenty-five feet by twenty-five.  So Andy outgrew his home facility leaving it to seek much bigger spaces.  If one thinks about it all this is very daring.  There was no artist in New York even approaching the concept.  Finally he rented an entire floor of a building on 47th Street that became known as the Factory.  Dylan would characterize it as Desolation Row.  When Edie made her appearance there in March of ’65 it was at that Factory.  There were subsequent and even larger ones.

This is where Dylan and Warhol stood at the beginning of 1965 when Edie became a pawn in their game.  Why did they want her?  As noted, the two were immigrants or the sons of immigrants so they knew the discomforts of being strangers in a strange land.  They knew the sense of inferiority among the ‘natives.’   They knew what being outsiders was especially as Dylan was a Jew and Warhol a homosexual.

Edie Sedgwick was a symbol of that envy and desire.  In a way she was the acme of the old line American and she was accessible.  She probably could have been half ugly and it wouldn’t have made much difference.

 

Malanga and Edie

From, say, 1870 to 1940 there was native America and there was immigrant America and they were separate but equal size.  While intelligent immigrants never had it rough there was still resentment and outright hatred for Anglo-America.  All this anti-America stuff comes from the immigrants or at least was fostered by them.   With those of the Undermen, those of low IQ, the hatret was worse.  WWII gave the immigrants a feeling of equality.  They fought too.  By 1950 they were superior in numbers assaulting every Anglo tradition and trashing it while doing their best to lower Anglos.  Of course, the Anglos were too stupid to see it or unwilling to acknowledge it.  After all, this was the magic ‘melting pot’ in which all resentments disappeared.  Americans had discovered the solution to world problems.  Both Dylan and Warhol shared in this resentment.

Thus when this female symhol of the old Anglo aristocracy appeared who they held responsible for their humilaition, whether they acknowledged it or not, they wanted to possess her, humiliate and destroy her.  Dylan today would deny it while Warhol’s excuse at the time was ‘How do you stop someone from doing what they want to do?’  Well, Andy, at least you don’t hand them the revolver cocked and loaded.  That Edie was humiliated and destroyed by her association with the two is proof enough of their intent.

The problem is to piece together the  events of that year and a half over ’65 and ’66 from less than adequate documentation.  I think I can produce a reasonable facsimle.

 

Chaps. 3, 4 and 5 are posted

Chaps. 6, 7 and 8 are posted

Chaps. 9, 10, 11 and 12 are posted