COLUMN SIXTY-EIGHT, FEBRUARY 1, 2002
(Copyright © 2002 Al Aronowitz)
A SOCIAL ARCHITECT
is one of those heroes of the "60s
underground who altered
That's what my old buddy Buddy thinks, and I agree with
him. Buddy himself was one of those
underground heroes and, as he says, 'tom was a man who did for marijuana what
Hugh Hefner did for sex." Hef, of
course, took the pasties off the nipples and the g-strings off the pussies and
put naked women on the glossy pages of a national magazine when no other
magazine would dare---except maybe National Geographic.
As for Tom, he also did what no one else would dare. He dressed up the
pages of his magazine with full-color pictures of pot.
Both my old buddy Buddy and I agree that it was a
tremendous breakthrough. As a journalist who took pride in traveling with the
countercultural hierarchy of those times, I now feel a degree of remorse that I
never got to know Tom as well as my old friend Buddy knew him.
Although I did know Tom well enough to be acquainted with the fact
that he had a pretty big ego---but the truth is he deserved to have one.
As my old buddy Buddy says:
"He considered himself a true social architect and he was
one! But he was also a shadowy fellow."
Was Buddy calling the kettle black?
Buddy used to be a pretty shadowy figure himself years ago back in the
days when Buddy and I were colleagues in the movement to decriminalize
marijuana. We also used to smoke
freebase together. That was before
we learned what every cocaine junkie inevitably learns---that cocaine is nothing
but a big fucking lie!
I get together with Buddy every once in a while and we talk
about our old potsmoking days when people could watch High Witness on
cable, starring Tom's squeeze, Gabrielle Schang, the Barbara Wawa of the
underground, and Mike Chance, who was the editor of the High Witness News
section of High Times. He
would be up there like a weatherman, talking about how the hurricane made all
the Columbian pot soggy, causing it to mold and therefore, the prices of the
good stuff, he'd say, is going up. And
that's how we got to be talking about Tom For?ade.
'tom came up through the ranks of the marijuana trade,?
Buddy said. "Except for working in a gas station here or there from time to
time, Tom went from high school to smuggling.
He started out walking across that border in Mexico and buying a couple
of pounds and bringing it to a desolate location and throwing it over the fence.
Then he'd cross the border at a legal place and run around in a four-wheel
drive jeep to go pick it up. After he did that for a while, then he started
bringing it into the country in trucks and then finally, he started flying in
planes. Thomas King For?ade!
TKF, we called him."
Yeah, Buddy was into the marijuana movement longer than
small-time me and Buddy knew Tom well. Well enough to once go halfies with him
on a horse farm.
"For?ade came from Arizona and he loved horses," Buddy
explained. "He knew good horse
flesh, too. I guess that was part
of the thing that he missed about living in New York.
I had a girl friend at the time who had a very unusual ability.
She grew up on a farm in Minnesota and she could 'speak? to horses
and they could 'speak? to her. She
knew what they were saying. She
really got into their heads and was able to effectively communicate with them.
'the horses would tell her everything she needed to know
about them. They would say all
kinds of things to her. They would
say, "Hey, I got some shit in my foot. Go
take the hoofpick and straighten it out? or "Hey, I'm hungry and I need
some exercise? or "I want to do this," " I'm tired, I'm sick? or
"I'm not well." She could go there like a fly fisherman can wade out into
the stream and read the river. She
would walk in the barn and 'talk? with the horses, read their thing.
"One day For?ade came over to our place and he noticed
two western saddles that were sitting on a saddle stand. These were good saddles, really impressive pieces of noble
work. He said, "Whose saddles are
these?? and I said, 'they are our saddles."
He said, "You are into horses?? I said, "Well she is into horses and we have this so
we can go out and ride together once in a while."?
'so For?ade says, "If you ever come across some real good horse flesh, let me know." So I said, "I'll keep an eye out, Tom, and I'll let you know." A week or two later I pick up a New York Times and I see this ad that said, "Breeder's Special." It was a horse farm from upstate New York and they had an Arabian champion stud horse of Egyptian line, named Al Mawardy
and two dapple-gray mares, Anastina and Zsa Zsa Nabor.
Nabor, you have to understand, is a very well known line of
Polish-Arabian horses, one of the Arabian horses that were bred in Poland---they
are the Polish Arabs. Of the Polish
Arabs, Nabor is among the great names. By breeding Polish stock with Arabian stock, we were hoping
to make a better horse.
'the Arabian horses are very special and they have two
fewer vertebrae than other horses. As
a result, you are not suppose to even get on their back for two years as opposed
to a year for regular horses. They
are very sure-footed, very intelligent and very beautiful.
They are the only horses that naturally throw their tail up when they
'so what these people who put the ad in the Times
were doing was they were selling a package, a breeder's package that consisted
of three horses, a mare, Zsa Zsa Nabor; a filly, Daphina; and a colt, Al Karim,
with a two-time breed back to their stallion, Al Mawardy. The filly, Daphina,
was just gorgeous. She was rose
pink and I'd never seen a rose colored horse like this before.
We were buying some good bloodlines.
'tom said, "I want in," and so we went about setting
up a horse farm together. We got a
place about 50 miles away from New York, 17 acres right in the middle of horse
country. A 100-foot long barn with
20 box stalls and it was a magnificent place.
He said, "Let's work out a deal."
So I sat down and I wrote up---it must have been a 10-or 12-page
contract. "You will do this and I
will do this, and my girl friend will do that."
"For?ade very carefully read the contract line by line
in the Trans-High Corporation office and said, "I understand it."
He took the contract and he ripped it in half.
I go, "Why did you do that?? He
reached under the table and he took out 10 grand and he put it on the table and
says, "Well we are partners and I don't expect you are every going to fuck
me, you know, or else. We don't
need this contract between us and we have an understanding." So I said,
'so we entered into this agreement with these breeders
and we took delivery of three horses. First
we brought the horses down to the Bronx. We
kept the horse in the Bronx at a place called Pelham Bit Stables, which is near
City Island, nice stables. The
owners once got arrested for stealing horses.
They were riding around Westchester County with a horse trailer and a
pick-up truck and they were knocking on doors and saying, "Do you have any
horses for sale. We would like to
buy some horses." People would
say no and now comes the dispute---whether or not they saw a horse in the
owner's field and they just went and took it.
Or, as they claim, "Oh, we were riding down the road and there was a
horse standing on the road so we didn't want the horse to get hit by a car so
we just led the horse to the trailer and brought him to our stable."
"But there was a big scandal that these two guys, two
businessmen who owned this reputable riding academy, stable, grooming and
boarding establishment got arrested for stealing horses.
"Eventually we got a farm up in Montgomery, New York.
It was a very nice farm and a year later, Zsa Zsa dropped a colt.
Sitting around and trying to come up with a suitable Arabian-type name
that began with "Al?---because "Al? is a common Arabian prefix, such as
in Al Karim---For?ade suggested "Al Aronowitz? and we all cracked up.
Eventually we called the colt Trans-Habib and then there was another colt
and we called that one Tekayeff as
in TKF, which is what we called Tom.
"But shortly thereafter, it was Tom who began to not
fulfill his end of the bargain. As
he got into deeper and deeper financial trouble he couldn't meet his
obligations. So unfortunately, it
fell squarely on me. At the time it
was not particularly a money-making operation, it was a money-losing
operation. Most horse breeding is.
And you can't compete with people who are in the business to lose
money. People are in there for tax
losses. It's a Tax loss business, yeah. When
you hear about the big money between the horses, "Oh, this horse sold for
$50,000 and this horse sold for $100,000."
"When you hear things like that, what is really going on
is that one fat cat is selling his horse to his other friend who is a fat cat
and it really doesn't matter. Because
what they are doing is they are wheeling and dealing. But it was then we had the farm and then For?ade killed
himself. It was a very sad moment
Only 33 when he died, Tom had spent his short life living
at the top. My old buddy Buddy says
he lived at the top of everything!
'the last place he lived was right on top of the Bruno Bakery on West Broadway and that's where he killed himself," Buddy said. "It wasn't long after he had a birthday party there. It was a big birthday party and I was there. I was there and I went there with this lady that I was living with. You know a lot of people came to For?ade's birthday party and I ran into a woman that I hadn't seen for years. So we got to chatting and she said, "You want to do a line of blow?? At that time I wasn't really into that kind of thing. I said, "Okay, but if you take this out and we do it here with the party, there is going to be a line forming."
A line to the line.
Buddy said he retreated to Tom's bedroom with the woman he hadn't seen in years to do a line of blow, which was relatively new to him at the time. Immediately, the lady he was living with left the party in a huff. She thought Buddy had retreated to
too many 'ludes?
the bedroom to have sex with the woman. He had to go
through agony to re-cement his relationship with his girl friend. "It was
totally innocent!" he insisted. For?ade, meanwhile was playing the host,
mingling with his guests. But, as
Buddy says, there were dark clouds looming ahead in the near future for him. Why
did he kill himself?
"Well, no one really knows," Buddy said. 'there is no doubt a combination of factors. I understand he was doing a lot of ludes, which make people depressed. Things weren't well with him and his girl friend, Gabrielle---whom by this time he had married to keep her from testifying against him.
"Rumor also had it that For?ade had something to do with
the 35 tons that got busted on a freighter right in Jamaica Bay in New York.
A huge amount---maybe it wasn't 35 tons but it was a very large amount.
It got cracked very shortly before he committed suicide. He was also very depressed because his best friend Jack died
in a plane crash.
"Jack uh".gee, we use to call him "Jack O?
Lantern," but I can't remember his name.
For?ade claimed that the DEA had put an altitude bomb in Jack's plane
and that they had murdered him, basically.
Tom also sunk a lot of money in a movie, which was a disaster.
It was going to be called the Smugglers or something like that.
The storyline was that some guys would get released out of jail or out of
some trouble that they were in but there was a load that was coming in from
Colombia. They had to go build an
airstrip on top of a mountain in Georgia's Polk County.
They had to go up there with a bunch of rednecks to cut down the trees
and do these bulldozers and work day and night in order to put in this rough
landing strip for a plane to come in and bring in all this weed.
'the rumor was that For?ade was making a movie about
smuggling weed so that he could smuggle some weed while he was making the movie.
I don't know if he did or not because the weed that was movie didn't
look particularly realistic to me. Somehow,
they screwed up the sound. The
sound recording of the movie was very bad and For?ade had a screening of the
movie in some MGM studio for some insiders and things like that.
"At this time there was a rivalry between High Times---Tom
For?ade---and Dana Beal, who was from Yipster Times.
The Yipster Times was the only nationally distributed underground
newspaper in America and it was the official organ of the Youth International
Party. It later became Overthrow
Magazine. See, For?ade came from the tradition of the underground
journalist and he was the founder of the UPS, which is the Underground Press
Syndicate. They had offices on
Broadway but there was this inherent rivalry between him and Dana.
Dana was producing a top quality underground newspaper and
was in many ways outshining For?ade---even though For?ade had a nationally
distributed glossy magazine. So
when Dana decided to make a movie---well, it was his second movie. The
first movie Dana made also had some technical problems. It was about the protests when Jimmy Carter was inaugurated
in 1977. But the following summer
he made a smash movie, a blockbuster movie---Dana was the producer and the movie
was called Smoke-In: The Movement to Legalize Marijuana.
It was a super docuprop.
"It was a half-hour movie and it had all kinds of people
in it in cameo appearances. Kunstler
was in it. David Michaels was in it. Also Allen Ginsberg, Stevie Wonder, Jerry
Garcia. It was a lot of the history
of the movement to legalize pot. It
started out with beautiful stock footage of the cops in 1932 seizing the
marijuana fields and Reefer Madness things, you see.
Then it worked its way up into the "50s and "60s and then it
culminated in 1977 with the Smoke-In in Washington, which drew 10,000
people---which was a tremendous turnout. So
Dana was able to make this half-hour movie---which ended up in the Miami Film
Festival---for under 30 grand. Something
like that---really cheap!
'see, For?ade had invested over a million dollars in his
movie that would never get out of the can because of all the technical problems.
And Beal had this finished product and he was really.
. . The Smoke-In
movie got tremendous response and it was really a counterculture classic. Half an hour of full color docuprop done in 1977, tremendous!
So that must've been weighing on Tom's mind.
And also he had other things troubling him.
'there was trouble at High Times. Sometimes in the course of events, a man will conceive of a business, found a business, work a business and develop a business. Then the business becomes a corporation. A corporation of many shareholders and the corporation gets a Board of Directors. Finally, a lot of these people turn around and they say fuck you to the owner, founder and developer. That's when the accountants and lawyers take over.
"Of course, they did that after he died. But when they tried to do it while he was alive, he got wind of it. For?ade was a brilliant theoretician. The story went that he was flying in a plane back to New York and he realized that they were about to
hired a bus
to win the vote
at a shareholders' meeting
throw him out of the magazine, out of the Trans-High
Corporation. He was reading through
the bylaws and he realized that they hadn't held an annual meeting of the
shareholders consisted to some degree of High Times employees, cause he
had promised them a piece of the company the same way as Bill Gates eventually
'so what he did when he arrived in New York, he chartered
a bus---a small bus---and then he walked around the offices of Trans-High
Corporation and he leaned over to those people who he knew were loyal to him and
said, "I'd like to invite you for lunch this afternoon.
There will be a bus downstairs." Of
course, I wasn't there so this is all hearsay.
He put together a group of good loyal people and brought them to lunch.
Then at the conclusion of lunch, he announced that they were going to
have a shareholders meeting. They
had a shareholders meeting, they voted the bastards out and For?ade reigned
again. He was a good politician and
In the end, Tom shot himself in the head with a
pearl-handled, small caliber pistol. He didn't die right away but remained in
a coma for more than a day.
"Yeah," Buddy said, "but that kind of coma must be
like having a bad dream where you can't wake up.
Usually when you have a bad dream you wake but imagine if you are in a
coma and having a bad dream and you can't wake up---shit! That's a
problem, you know. And he did it
with a little gun, a small caliber revolver.
He didn't even know how to do it.
Too young to die and he didn't even know how to kill himself properly.
But he was a true social architect.
"For?ade defined the marijuana culture as a good
culture. He helped make it clear
that there a millions of people who smoke marijuana in America and that they
deserve to have their opinions known, their ideas respected and they are not
criminals---aside from violating the marijuana laws!
That they are, by and large honest, hard-working, law-biding, taxpaying
citizens who shouldn't be victimized by government out of control. That they should have a voice, representation and they should
have a forum by which they could express themselves and communicate openly about
important issues of the day.
'tom helped organize the marijuana culture to go on and
deal with important issues of the day. High
Times went on to do a lot of breaking through. The magazine, from time to time---just like people or
organizations lose their way. They
stray from the path that they first set out to walk. There was a time when cocaine became very fashionable and the
magazine succumbed to that hype---even though, as you so aptly point out, coke
is a lie. But the magazine fell for
the lie for a while. Then they had
to deal with the advertising pressure. What
they could advertise and what they couldn't.
They would have some sexy ads too and feminists would be upset about it
because they would show sexy young woman in revealing poses.
There were adulterants at one point that they allowed to
advertise---chemicals which would adulterate drugs.
"High Times was not a non-profit
organization for the public good. But
they did do a tremendous amount of public good.
They warned people about the dangers of paraquot when the government was
out to poison people by poisoning marijuana---then it was in Mexico and then it
would come up here and people would smoke it and who knows what would happen?
"We almost got marijuana legalized.
We almost did and we came within a hair's breadth of it when the whole
thing---drug policy---imploded. Because
of the double agent who was planted in the White House.
His name was Peter Bourne. He
was the drug czar under Jimmy Carter but he was a deep plant.
He was a Trilateralist and, basically, he was working for the opposition.
He always had the Republican and conservative ties.
He was a British-born physician who taught at Emory College and his claim
to fame was bringing methadone to the state of Georgia---where he first got to
know Jimmy Carter when Jimmy Carter was governor."
I was living with a Greek goddess who worked in the White
House during the Carter administration. I
used to give her Thai sticks to take to her bosses like apples for the teacher.
She would leave them in an envelope on a boss's desk on which she'd write:
"Letter from Siam."
"Yeah, all of them smoked pot," Buddy mused. "Maybe not Jimmy, but his son Chip did. We used to go to the White House and chant, "Chip gets high, why can't I?? We had a real good chance with Carter and it was going very, very well
the decriminalization effort
until this thing happened with Peter Bourne.
See, you know how the Trilateral Commission works.
They pick a guy who's going to be the Republican candidate for
President that's acceptable---if he wins---and then they pick a guy who is a
Democrat and they make him the candidate who is acceptable---if he wins.
Of course, they would prefer if the more conservative guy wins.
"But just in case he doesn't win, they want to have a
control on and a handle onto the guy who is from the other side, too.
It's kind of like playing over-under by betting on red and black
at the same time or betting high and low.
So the thing about Peter Bourne was---acting on orders from the
Trilateralists---he was the man that approached Jimmy Carter and said, "You
should run for president, Mr. Carter---Mr. Governor."
So Carter didn't forget and because Bourne was a top-level official in
Georgia with the Health Administration and done so well in registering all the
drug addicts into the methadone program of the State of Georgia, he got the
position of the drug czar. And he was running around snorting coke with Keith
Stroup's group and all these other people at these NORML parties.
'see, even NORML got totally corrupted by the lie of
cocaine and the thing was this: when
Carter was about to go and really do something meaningful about changing the
marijuana laws, they---the Trilateralists---decided it was time to implode Peter
Bourne and derail decrim.
"Who are they" The Trilateralists.
Their opposition to everything might've well been directed from the
Republican National Committee. They set this up between the higher-ups, the FBI and Peter
Bourne. They said, "Here's what
you're going to do, Peter. You're going to write a Quaalude prescription for
one of these chicks in the White House office, one of the secretaries.
You will instruct her to take the prescription to a specific pharmacy in
Virginia. You will tell her "Present this prescription to the
pharmacist and he will just give it to you and I'll write it in a phony name
so it wouldn't get traced back to the White House."?
'she said sure and she took it down and the FBI was
waiting for her. It was a trap and
it caused Peter Bourne to lose his job and to go back to private practice, but
he didn't give a shit. He had
accomplished what he had set out to accomplish.
He destroyed Carter's drug policy and he caused it to reverse midstream
and go right back and rebound to something far more stringent---worse than it
ever was in the beginning. Bourne
was the kamikaze of the drug policy.
"Let me tell you a little bit about what a turncoat he
is. During the Vietnam War, Peter
Bourne was the regional director of Vietnam Veterans against the war.
VVAW was the most provocative group of veterans---and dangerous group
against the war because they were veterans.
This group was largely comprised of combat soldiers who were now against
the war---dangerous people who were trained to kill.
People who went out there and did a lot of it and they came back and they
were dissatisfied? Well, this guy
Bourne was the regional coordinator, the southeast regional coordinator. He wrote articles in lefty publications like Ramparts
and so on.
"Under intense surveillance and scrutiny was this
organization by every single agency of the government from the Secret Service to
the FBI to the CIA. They were all
interested in all the anti-war groups, especially VVAW because of their access
to weapons. These guys would send
bazookas home in the mail. They
would send mortars and stuff like that. And
this guy Bourne was about to receive an award from the Left.
Ramparts Magazine and VVAW were teaming up and they were giving
him this big tremendous award and a banquet and a big whoop-de-doo. . .
"Peter Bourne was about to receive this big tremendous
award because of his Leftist affiliation. You
know, he was a big supporter of Howard Levy and Susan Shnell.
Levy was the doctor in the army who refused to teach the green berets how
to gas Vietnamese peasants. Susan
Shnell was a nurse in the war and took a very principled stance against the war.
So here is a big supporter and a big member of VVAW and they were about
to give him the big whoop-de-do leftist-of-the-year award.
I forget exactly which award it was, but he canceled and he didn't
"He flew to Washington the day they were about to give
him that award and on that day, he was named by Richard Nixon as the Deputy
Director of BNDD, which was the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, which
is the predecessor to the DEA. All
of sudden, I mean that's like making Dana Beal Deputy Drug Czar.
It's just totally crazy. So
if ever you wanted a text book example of how this guy was a deep mole and how
he turned around and went and showed his true colors, that's the example.
So after he was with the BNDD for a while he went back to Emory
University, which is in Georgia. Which
was his base. Then---without regard
to his political past---he picked up a job with the Georgia Board of Health and
he became head of the drug treatment department and methadonized the whole
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