Timothy Leary: inmates on “mushrooms” had a lower recidivism rate

This story is about one man’s ideas about creativity. It is truly an odd story. Enjoy this read!

Celtic Scribes: Timothy Leary

By Ray Cavanaugh

Timothy Leary was born in 1920 in Springfield, Massachusetts. His father was an Irish-American dentist who abruptly skipped town before his only son’s thirteenth birthday. Upon graduating from high school, Leary headed to College of the Holy Cross in nearby Worcester, where his penchant for mischief met with disciplinary opposition.

Clearly desiring a change of venue, the oppressed undergrad migrated south to the University of Alabama, where he was once again pegged as a discipline problem. Eventually receiving a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Leary polished his act enough to obtain master’s and doctoral degrees in the Psych field.

Having held positions as assistant professor and research director, Leary was then able to land a coveted faculty seat at Harvard University. During a 1960 sabbatical to Mexico, the professor ingested what would become the most influential mushroom in western culture; it was a psilocybin mushroom, the same sort which, many moons ago, had been consumed by indigenous peoples in their quest for enhanced religious ceremony.

For Leary, the encounter was mind-blowing; he later proclaimed that the psychedelic snack had, in several hours time, enabled him to “learn more about [his] brain and its possibilities than fifteen years of doing research in Psychology.”

Wanting to share the enlightenment, Leary established the Harvard Psilocybin Project and invited participants to try his special mushrooms, which were legal at the time. Along with the purported mind-expansion, Leary’s mushrooms supposedly carried the potential to curb addictions and antisocial impulses. Following an extended experiment at nearby Concord State Prison, Leary claimed that mushroom-fed parolees experienced a lower rate of recidivism. Subsequent studies have disputed this claim.

Around Harvard, there had blossomed a psychedelic black market; people were chasing a whole kaleidoscope of hallucinated stimuli. At Harvard dorms, some visiting parents observed that their little scholars were chewing the carpet; it soon seemed uncertain if all pupils were receiving a solid liberal arts core. During this time, Leary’s position at Harvard was terminated, officially for the neglect of lecturing obligations, though many decided the termination was for Leary’s role in diffusing psychedelics.

In the mid-1960s, legal troubles began for Leary, who had emerged as a counterculture icon. He faced multiple charges for marijuana possession; one case even reached the Supreme Court, which ultimately decided to overturn his drug conviction. Leary celebrated such triumph by announcing his entry into California’s gubernatorial race, led at the time by future president Ronald Reagan.

Not every court decision went Leary’s way, however; for possessing a half-ounce of marijuana, he received a lengthy sentence. Upon arriving at prison, he was given a psychological test geared to assigning each inmate a suitable work detail. With his extensive Psych background (which even included the design of prison-administered psychological tests), Leary answered the questions in such a way so as to obtain a cushy gardening job in a section with comparatively lax security. He got the job he wanted, and soon escaped.

Having reunited with his wife, Leary fled to Algeria, then to Switzerland, where he ended his marriage and dabbled in heroin, before teaming up with an immensely wealthy socialite. Together, they went to Austria, Lebanon, and even Afghanistan, where Leary was intercepted by U.S. federal agents, much to the delight of then president Richard Nixon, who had previously called Leary “the most dangerous man in America.”

America’s “most dangerous man” was returned to his home-country and cast into the infernal bowels of California’s Folsom State Prison, where he inhabited a solitary cell immediately adjacent to that of counterculture devil Charles Manson.

According to federal authorities, Leary became an informant, sharing secret information about other radicals he had known. There was dispute over how much inmate Leary actually did reveal; many contended that he never supplied any significant information, and that his “cooperation” was merely a pretense used to gain early release from prison. At any rate, he was soon granted his freedom.

Out of prison, Leary divided his time between lecture tours, drug trips, and writing. In all, he authored over twenty books, mainly memoirs and social philosophy. This philosopher, however, was not one for Aristotelian ethics; he instead urged us all to “turn on, tune in, and drop out.” Leary was also an ardent early supporter of the internet, which he considered “the LSD of the 1990s.”

In 1995, Leary was diagnosed with inoperable prostrate cancer. As if tanking up for the biggest trip of all, he embarked on a rigorous daily regimen of “nitrous oxide, cigarettes, marijuana, heroin, and morphine.” By request, his death was videotaped. Having desired to go extraterrestrial instead of subterranean, his ashes were eventually rocketed into outer space – an untraditional yet fitting end for the Irish-American maverick who had a whole generation galloping into a higher planetary consciousness.


JournalLive – Culture – Arts – Medieval city streets set to glow in the dark.


Southbank Centre Presents Award-Winning Art By Women Offenders

09 Nov 2009
Southbank Centre presents the 48th annual Koestler Awards exhibition “Art by Offenders, Secure Patients and Detainees” on show at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre. The exhibition includes some 130 exhibits created by inmates of prisons, young offender institutions, secure hospitals and immigration removal centres across the UK, as well as offenders supervised by probation and youth offending services and British prisoners abroad.

In a departure from previous years, the 2009 show is the first national art exhibition curated by serving prisoners. All the curators are from a women’s prison, giving the selection of 130 works a distinctly female perspective. The six curators were carefully chosen from women nearing the end of their sentences at HM Prison Downview in Surrey. As part of the nine-week educational project, the women have undergone intensive training, selected the exhibits, designed and built the displays and will be giving exhibition talks and tours. Each of the women involved will receive guidance about where to aim next with the new skills that they have learnt.

Jude Kelly, Artistic Director Southbank Centre said, “We are delighted to welcome back the Koestler Trust awards to the Royal Festival Hall, in the second year of a continuing partnership with Southbank Centre. We wholeheartedly support their work and philosophy. Developing the skills to express ideas and emotions through art and craft gives each prisoner and detainee a new sense of what is possible in their life and how they can build a different future for themselves.”

Tim Robertson, Chief Executive the Koestler Trust said, “Given the rising prison population, it may be obvious that the number of artworks entered for Koestler Awards should continue to grow each year. What is more remarkable is that the quality of the work is clearly rising too. And the women prisoners who have curated this year’s exhibition have shed it in a fascinating new light. Their selections feel warmly personal, sometimes dark, but with marvelous flashes of humour, and a particular emphasis on careful detail and discipline. They are giving those of us outside prison an unprecedented insight into custody, creativity and gender.”

Organised by The Koestler Trust, the UK’s best known prison arts charity, this year’s Awards attracted 5,867 entries, with prizes awarded in 52 categories. The exhibition includes film, music and writing alongside the visual arts. Visitors are invited to vote for extra awards sponsored by the Wates family, owners of one of the UK’s largest construction companies, the Wates Group.

All of the work in the exhibition has been made in the last year, and includes painting, sculpture, drawing, ceramics, textiles and other media. The female curators have been instrumental in shaping the design and hang at Southbank Centre, and some of their comments are included in the displays.

The Awards, now in their 48th year, aim to promote creativity across the criminal justice system. Many of the works are for sale at modest prices, with half the proceeds going to the artist. The sales provide invaluable financial support for the Koestler Trust, and 10% goes to Victim Support, the national charity for people affected by crime.
Read Southbank Centre / AG articles on Taxi
•Southbank Centre Presents Award-Winning Art By Women Offenders

Midwest people the happiest. California not so much.

Think you’re seeing a lot more glum faces in your neighborhood? That’s likely the case if you live in one of four states with high home-foreclosure rates: Florida, Nevada, California and Arizona. Those normally majestic, carefree states ranked as the least happiest, at least when it comes to money matters, a new survey shows.

And where might you find some of the most smiley people? According to Mainstreet.com’s Happiness Index, dead in the center of the country, where some of the country’s least densely populated states can be found. Nebraska was at the top of heap, followed by Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma and Montana.
Why is that, you ask? Well, to get an understanding of where each state finished and why, it’s important to understand the methodology behind the survey’s components. The Happiness Index analyzes household income, non-mortgage debt, employment and foreclosures to come up with a Happiness Index Value. A higher value results in the least happy places.

Take, for example, Florida. The Sunshine State ranked 51st in the Happiness Index rankings, which include the 50 states plus the District of Columbia. With the third highest foreclosure rate in the country, 11% unemployment and a high non-mortgage debt rate (37%), it’s not surprising that Florida dropped to the bottom of the Happiness Index with a value of 136, Mainstreet.com said.

Penultimate finisher Nevada had a higher unemployment rate (13.3%) and the highest foreclosure rate in the country. One in every 23 households in the state has faced foreclosure. Non-mortgage debt, at 33.4% of total annual income, also means Silver State residents have little income left over to enjoy gambling, which might lift a few spirits and brighten a few smiles. Its Happiness Index value was 135.

California, at third from the bottom, could be described as the Britney Spears of states. Its myriad problems, including budget woes, and high unemployment and foreclosures rates, have played out before a national audience and are fodder for more than a few jokes on late-night TV. California chalked up a Happiness value of 134.

Not to be outdone, finishing at No. 48, Arizona had the highest rate of non-mortgage debt to income of any state in the union — nearly 40%. That means Grand Canyon State residents spent 40 cents out of every dollar just to pay off such things as credit-card debt and auto loans. The good news is the state is projected to lose fewer jobs next year, though the current rate of employment stands at 9.1%. So at least some Arizonans will be able to continue to pay those debts. The state recorded a Happiness Index value of 129.

On the flip side, Nebraska’s 4.9% unemployment rate was nearly half that of Arizona. It also had a low rate of foreclosures and a more manageable 28.6% debt-to-income ratio. Second-place Iowa had a higher unemployment rate — 6.7% — but also a relatively low rate of foreclosures and similar levels of indebtedness. All that positive data resulted in Nebraska recording a Happiness Index value of 15, while Iowa’s was just two ticks higher at 17.

Rounding out the top five, Kansas, Oklahoma and Montana all had unemployment rates below 7%, low relative debt-to-income ratios and comparatively low foreclosure rates. They had Happiness Index values ranging from 36 to 50.

Whether these latest figures will result in greater numbers of Americans moving to the nation’s heartland remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure: there’s sure plenty of room for them.

Girls Write Now Helps at risk girls, wins award

Girls Write Now Receives 2009 Coming Up Taller Award from First Lady at The White House

Mon, 09 Nov 2009, 12:52:16 EST
Edited by Carly Zander

WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 9 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) — Girls Write Now, a New York City organization that matches at-risk high school girls with professional women writers for mentoring and writing training, has been nationally recognized as one of 15 youth arts and humanities programs to receive the prestigious 2009 Coming Up Taller Award. Youth and adult representatives of the program traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend a White House ceremony on November 4, where they accepted the award from Mrs. Obama.

Coming Up Taller is a national initiative that recognizes and supports outstanding out-of-school and after-school arts and humanities programs for children, especially those with great potential, but limited outlets for creative expression. A project of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Coming Up Taller Awards honor programs that offer exceptional learning experiences in the arts and the humanities and that have a tangible effect on the lives of young people as evidenced through improved academic scores, enhanced life skills, and positive relationships with peers and adults.

Since 1998, Girls Write Now (www.girlswritenow.org) has helped at-risk high-school girls build critical literacy skills and find their voices through one-to-one mentoring relationships with professional women writers. Girls Write Now is the first and only East Coast organization to combine mentoring and writing training within the context of all-girl programming, which includes a full complement of workshops, public readings, anthology publications, and college-preparation assistance. While the New York State Education Department reports that 43.6 percent of New York City’s youth fail to complete high school on time, 100 percent of Girls Write Now seniors graduate and go on to colleges like Barnard College, Hunter College, The New School, New York University, Smith College, Swarthmore College, and more, bringing with them writing awards, scholarships, and a newfound confidence. More than 90 percent of their students are girls of color, and more than 40 percent are recent immigrants.

“For 12 years, Girls Write Now has honed our method and model, delivering high quality, rigorous, and constantly evolving curriculum to girls throughout New York City,” said Maya Nussbaum, founder and executive director of Girls Write Now. “Students emerge from our program armed with a body of work that confidently secures their place among our next generation of women writers.”

“This year’s Coming Up Taller Awardees exemplify how arts and humanities programs outside of the school setting can impact on the lives of our young people,” says Margo Lion, co-chairman, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. “By exciting imaginations and providing opportunities for self-expression through the disciplines of theater, dance, music and literature these exceptional projects offer their participants windows on possibility and a belief in a more positive future.”

The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities bridges the interests of federal agencies and the private sector, supports special projects that increase participation, and helps incorporate the humanities and the arts into White House objectives. The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education. Because democracy demands wisdom, the National Endowment for the Humanities serves and strengthens our Republic by promoting excellence in the humanities and conveying the lessons of history to all Americans. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is an independent federal grant making agency dedicated to creating and sustaining a nation of learners.

For more information please visit the following Web sites:
Girls Write Now: http://www.girlswritenow.org
Coming Up Taller: http://www.pcah.gov/cut.htm
President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities: http://www.pcah.gov
National Endowment for the Arts: http://www.arts.gov
National Endowment for the Humanities: http://www.neh.gov
Institute of Museum and Library Services: http://www.imls.gov .

Note: Costs associated with dissemination of this news announcement were donated to GWN by Neotrope®.

NEWS SOURCE: Girls Write Now
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KYW Newsradio 1060 Philadelphia – Arts Education Makes a Difference

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