A number of friendly, charity-minded social clubs have sprung up in Disney fandom. They dress in disnefied versions of biker wear, gather together in Disneyland, help people out, and keep each other company. I encountered the Neverlanders several times last year when I had a residency at Disney Imagineering, and I loved the way they blended counterculture and fandom. A long, smart piece about the clubs in OC Weekly traces their history and growth -- fuelled by Instagram -- and the way they encountered mainstream Disney fandom through message-boards and in the parks.
As the article notes, there's a long history of counterculture at Disney parks, from the Yippie invasion to the goth takeover of Tomorrowland prior to the New Tomorrowland renovation. This sort of thing was my direct inspiration for proposing a fan takeover of Disney in Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, and the goth redesign of Fantasyland in Makers.
The presence of counterculture/bohemians in Disneyland shows how appropriation runs in two directions, and also points to a new direction in fraternal organizations. The activities of Disneyland's social clubs -- Neverlanders, Pix Pak, Black Death Crew, Main Street Elite -- would be recognizable to my grandparents, who were active in groups like Kiwanis and B'nai Brith, and who unwound with their friends through bowling and card-games and multi-family picnics.
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Ben Marks of CollectorsWeekly says,
The first time I met Rick Synchef, I was anxious to see his legendary stash of political ephemera and protest posters from the 1960s, which eventually formed the basis of an article for CollectorsWeekly. Synchef had been collecting political paper and ephemera since he was a student in Madison, Wisconsin, which was a hotbed of political activism in the late ’60s. So when I arrived at his home, I was unprepared for the depth and breadth of his other collection of books and periodicals showcasing the work of Beat poets and authors of the 1950s and ’60s, from Charles Bukowski to Gary Snyder.
Now more than 200 pieces from Synchef's collection—including a 1958 first-edition paperback of On the Road that's been signed by Neal Cassady and inscribed to Kerouac, as well as a first-edition hardcover of Tom Wolfe's 1968 The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test that's been signed by the author and 45 other members of the 1960s counterculture—is up for auction at PBA Galleries in San Francisco. Viewing days are October 8-10, with the auction itself on the 10th.
Don't miss the methadone bottle that was prescribed to William Burroughs and is now filled with rocks and dirt from his grave, as well as a .45-caliber shell from his shotgun.
Extraordinary Collection of Counterculture Literature Up for Auction
Timothy Leary in 1961. (NYPL Manuscripts and Archives Division)
At Wired, Greg Miller writes about Timothy Leary's journey from scientist to "psychedelic celebrity", revealed in new detail by the release of his archives.
Leary may be best known for his role in the psychedelic movement of the ’60s, but in his later years, at the dawn of the internet age he became fascinated by the potential of technology to transform human communication (see the related gallery on video games and other software from Leary’s archives). He also became interested in life extension and space migration, which he discussed in an exchange of letters with astronomer Carl Sagan.
Leary’s main message – and another one of his famous slogans – was to get people to think for themselves and question authority, said Denis Berry, a trustee of his estate. It’s a message that’s still relevant today, Berry said. “Let’s get out of the rut we’re unconsciously following, and start thinking for ourselves and living the life we want to live.”
A previously unknown connection between Czech dissident Vaclav Havel and American psychologist Timothy Leary is revealed by an inscribed copy of Leary’s 1977 Neuropolitics.
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The New People was a 1969 TV series about a group of college students whose plane crashed on a small island. The accompanying adults perished, leaving only the young people. Fortuitously, the deserted island had been the planned location for a nuclear test, so the government had left buildings and supplies behind. For the stranded students, this is the start of "Year One" and an opportunity to create a new kind of society. Rod Serling wrote the pilot for the show that was a cross between Lord of the Flies, Lost, and a JG Ballard story dosed with 150ug of 1960s counterculture.