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Mystical Journey

Don't Spook The Locals

by Dr. Derek Lamar

This is almost anti-climactic. I almost wrote "anti-climatic" which would be "against the weather" but that would take us back to "A Conundrum of Condoms". This might seem rather tame for the 21st century. You have to remember that this was taking place in the 70's. But there were similar stories in the Gurdjieff books about the carryings on at the Prieure in Fontainebleau outside of Paris at Gurdjieff's school in the 20's and 30's.

(Right: looks like "The Zoo" but without the pool. But this picture brings back memories.)

There was no physical school that housed the students except for those who lived in the house of Thane, the Teacher. But there was something similar and appropriate for the times. It was an aggregate of apartment buildings where students did congregate. By the time Fourth Way students started arriving from all over the country at its peak: 1970 to 1972, there were several dozen people needing some sort of housing. One of the school's mentors lived in an apartment building on 7th Street in Santa Monica and soon many of the new people started gravitating in that direction.

There weren't a lot of rules in the school, per se. But there certainly were some "suggestions". One of those was phrased "Don't Spook The Locals". This didn't mean literally the locals but it could, however it was more universal. It meant don't disturb the public at large. This had to do specifically with the "Teaching" and how this new information could agitate or even freak out some people who were not ready for the information being taught. Jesus made references to this in his Teaching. He said: "Don't throw pearls before swine." He also said "Go, and tell no one." And finally he said "Do not create obstacles for the children." This meant that if you make it difficult for others to accept the teaching because of thoughtless words or actions then you are responsible for them not seeing the Truth. But often this happens without thought and each of us is responsible for ourselves and no one else. At some point we also must stop thinking only of ourselves and begin to look at others like new buds that are ready to bloom and it doesn't help to shake the bush.

(Above: entry to the Santa Monica Pier at Palisades park. Below: The S.M. Pier.)

Much of what students were learning was setting them free. But often this freedom turned into a sort of hedonistic behavior before they traversed to the next level. One always hoped they would make it to the next level. Some never did. And thus the axiom: "a little learning is a dangerous thing." The activities that began to take place among the "young" crowd were often humorous and sometimes disturbing but always a source of conversation. Soon the apartment buildings began to be called "The Zoo" because so many there were acting like animals. Which in and of itself is an oxymoron because I have always found animals to be pretty well behaved myself.

(Right: all kinds of activity happened on the Santa Monica Pier. Just walking distance from the Fourth Way School on Fourth Street. A common diversion for students.)

One of the first "spooking of the locals" was the "steam baths" which students were creating and inviting everyone to at "The Zoo". First off, the apartments were tiny, for the most part. Most of them were bachelor and single apartments. The bachelor apartments being one room with a closet and a bathroom with a small refrigerator and a hot plate whereas the single had a decent sized kitchen to go along with it. The "steam baths" consisted of everyone getting naked, cramming into a small bathroom, putting a towel at the base of the bathroom door and turning on the hot water in the shower to create the desired steam room effect.

The more obvious public display was the unusual kissing between men and between women whether straight or gay thus causing sexual identity crises among all of the onlookers. Even in California this could cause heads to spin. Many late night therapy sessions invited complaints from angry neighbors trying to get sleep. And the basic routine of musical beds that seemed to create only one main theme of SEX ­ SEX ­ SEX.

One event that caused the phones to ring at The Teacher's house was Jerry causing a disturbance and getting kicked out of the famous Purple Lion Nightclub in Hollywood during a Hadda Brooks concert where he decided it would be appropriate to smuggle his own liquor into the venue.

(Left: the late, great jazz singer and performer: Hadda Brooks, also a Fourth Way Student and personal friend of Thane's.)

Another peculiar situation that caused eyes to roll and eyebrows to be raised was when the police were called to investigate a noise complaint at an apartment near "The Zoo". When they arrived and their knock was unheeded they found the door not only unlocked but slightly ajar. The two officers proceeded into the residence to discover three people in the bathtub: Leslie, Bob and Laura, all nude and enjoying a tub filled with cherries bobbing about. Laura was approximately 15 years old at the time and I can't imagine what would have taken place if this occurred today. There seemed to be nothing going on except three people having a good time, but?

(Above right: I spent many hours, as did other Fourth Way Students, doing research and "Work" at the Santa Monica Library.)

During a special event held at the Coronado Hotel, a confrontation occurred when it was discovered that a reserved room was held for myself, Tom, David and Jackie. When the concierge became aware that Jackie was actually a woman and not a man they exclaimed that this would not take place. David Miles, well known gay man in the school, began causing a scene in the lobby at the front desk in a loud voice: "What kind of hotel is this? Men and women can't share rooms together? Only men can sleep with men? Is this a homosexual hotel? Just what is going on here?" To which the management quickly gave Tom and I our own room for two, David took a room with someone else and Jackie got a room by herself private and exclusive. All at the original quoted 4 per room rate. Thank you David.

(Left: The famous Coronado Hotel. Two major events, one year after the other, Crown Mysteries, took place here in the large lecture room at Christmas time 1974 and 1975.))

One of the psychological classes in the school encouraged the student to get in touch with his or her emotions. Sometimes students would get a little carried away and would insist on yelling and screaming at the top of their lungs sending chills through the halls as non-students quivered at the thought of what was going on. This didn't help bring in new students.

One afternoon a student who no longer lived in the complex invited a local prostitute to a vacant apartment and proceeded to have sex without paying her first. She began screaming rape and after Chuck finished his kundalini exercise she reported the incident to the police. This provoked a neighborhood search until finally he admitted what had taken place. This was more bad public relations. I mean we had plenty of prostitutes, hustlers and homosexuals in the student body sufficient to create an avant-garde image without events such as this.

I saw a lot of things and heard a lot of stories because I began working for the complex and assisting the manager in the maintenance of the buildings. During one of my rounds I got into a conversation with a student named Sherry who told me about her former psychiatrist who used to make passes at her. Eventually they ended up in a sexual relationship and she was quite taken back by this behavior. A few days later I passed by a Mentor's apartment only to see her engaged in sexual activity with who was then her counselor. Not exactly the breaking of a pattern.

(Left: Santa Monica Boulevard with its beautiful palm trees. Right: San Vicente Boulevard in Santa Monica.)

Another Mentor living at "The Zoo", seemed for a time, to be "trying out" several of her female assistants in order to finally settle for the lover of her choice. Often the "sexual liberation" seemed to trump the "Don't Spook The Locals" rule and in fact seemed to be encouraged. One of her lovers started dating the husband of another of her lovers who ended up having a fight in the art department where he threw an Xacto blade at her in defiance. Meow!

A student named Ben, chose to use his homosexual relationship with his then lover as an example of sexuality in the "sex lecture" of a certain metaphysical class for the school causing reverberations across the entire United States on one particular teaching tour. This kept the Mentors busy writing reports and making phone calls for some time.

Another student reported that my "music", which I was writing at the time, was "freaking people out". Most of what I was writing was very psychological and some of it portending futuristic doom but not unlike music out at the time by David Bowie. Rumors of my influence were highly exaggerated. However at the same time the school itself was using music from the then musical "Let My People Come" with songs such as: "I'm Gay", "Dirty Words", "Whatever Turns You On", "Come In My Mouth" with lyrics like: "I can feel all your strength...what would you like me to do? I'll take you inch by inch, just let me worship you."

(Left: Album "Let My People Come" with theatre flyer on the right.)

Other rules besides "Don't Spook The Locals" was "Don't Talk About Teacher" which brought on much criticism at the time. One long time member, Sadah Loomis, gasped that it was starting to sound like Scientology back in the day when no one was allowed to say anything about L. Ron Hubbard. In the end it all brought on shades of various cults: Jim Jones, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, Werner Erhard, Tony Robbins and more recently Marshal Applewhite and Heaven's Gate. The Teacher himself seemed to be as guilty as anyone with rumors abounding regarding all of the young boys working at the Rectory and no girls --- the nudity that continued at retreats --- the sexual confrontations used as therapy to break down the psychological barriers among certain members of the student body --- it all seemed to create more problems than it resolved. And yet it was where I was supposed to be. Saga continues... Eyes Wide Open

© Copyright Derek Lamar 2005


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