Great Graphic Novels: Zap Comix #2

Last month I asked my friends to write about books they loved (you can read all the essays here). This month, I invited them to write about their favorite graphic novels, and they selected some excellent titles. I hope you enjoy them! (Read all the Great Graphic Novel essays here.) -- Mark

Zap Comix #2

I think it was 1969, so I was 11 or 12 years old. A conservative science teacher with a Marine-style buzzcut had just finished projecting an anti-drug exploitation film for us in class, in which teens were getting hit by cars and launching themselves from buildings as the result of bad acid trips. Just after this, Mr. Buzzcut excitedly announced that he would demonstrate to us what a burning marijuana cigarette smelled like, just so we'd know the odor and be able to avoid areas where it was present. He gathered all thirty students around as he lit up a colorless tablet. None of us could detect any sort of odor at all.

As they usually did for just about everyone who was subjected to them, these anti-drug presentations aroused my curiosity to try the real thing, consequences be damned.

That weekend, I hopped on my Schwinn Sting-Ray bicycle to scout out areas where I suspected longhairs would gather. Early one evening I detected an extremely fragrant scent outside a movie theater on Wilshire near La Cienega. Finally, I thought, I had experienced the real smell of "Mary Jane," pot, grass or whatever those exploitation films maintained was the current slang. Read the rest

Ritual America: Secret Brotherhoods and Their Influence on American Society - exclusive excerpt

[Video Link]

A brief look behind Ritual America: Secret Brotherhoods and Their Influence on American Society, a Visual Guide. by Adam Parfrey

One of the most exciting secondhand store moments ever: discovering a beautifully preserved 19th century Masonic uniform with dozens of buttons, embroidered crosses, a skull and bones apron, official belt, and pointy "Chapeau" hat topped with white ostrich feathers.


The store owner told me the costume was from "Knights of Pythias," a 19th century fraternal order that loved its uniforms, and marching around in them. Like a couple other faux-Masonic Orders that referred to themselves as "Knights," the Pythians confused its historical inspiration. Damon and Pythias came from ancient Greek mythology, and the added "Knights" referred to medieval anti-Islam crusaders battling for the crown and Christianity.

Later I came to discover the uniform was in fact from the Knights Templar, a Masonic subset that also loved its uniforms, and marching around in them.

More recently Knights (or Knight) Templar uniforms were worn by the similarly anti-Islamic mass murderer Anders Brevik and a particularly murderous Mexican drug gang.

Anders Brevik in Templar costume:

Read the rest