CHAPTER 4: Dana Beal
As Dhoruba said a few months later just before he embraced Nelson Mandela
at 125th Street in Harlem, every movement needs a "symbol" to
inspire it. The final unintended side effect of all those trials, all that
political agitation by Dhoruba's supporte rs, was that a single television
image did escape from NewYork, even into the jail where Dana was sitting
in Madison, Wisconsin: Black Panthers had tried to drive heroin out of Harlem
Dana was born in the same hospital in Ravenna, Ohio, where the dying students
were later taken from Kent State. He counts among his formative experiences
shaking hands with Jack Kennedy when he campaigned in East Lansing in 1960,
and hitch-hiking in August '63, at 16, to Washington, D.C. , in order to
be near the foot of the Lincoln Memorial for the "I have a dream"
speech. Two months later he organized his first demonstration of 2,000 people,
in Lansing, when the Klan blew up four little Bla ck girls in a church on
The next year he did a brief stint in a state mental hospital because of
his mercurial temper. Because he told shrinks he thought he was destined
for something important, they said he was crazy. But that kept him from
being drafted in January '65, a m onth with the highest proportion of casualties
in Viet Nam. He also became a lifelong critic of thorazine and prolyxin.
He escaped, got a job in New York, saved his money, and legalized his status
in late 1965.
On Christmas Day, 1966, after studying epistemology and metaphysics, he
tried LSD for the first time. His reaction: Kant was right, it's all phenomena.
But after the first few times (including one session with a friendly psychologist
who helped him plumb distressing episodes of his early childhood), he found
that more and more of the acid had a speed base such as ritalin to gettwice
as many hits out of a gram--thereby demonstrating the flaws of an underground
market. People were no longer getting a genuine LSD effect. Reinforced by
speed, the ego-structures wouldn't let go.
Because of the furious controversy surrounding CIA sponsorship or involvement
in psychedelics, speculation was rife that all this was deliberate--part
of a program to keep the psychedelic revolution under control. When Dana
got real LSD again, he had a vision:
"I flashed that all of us in the psychedelic movement were like voluntary
guinea pigs in some kind of CIA experiment that had gotten out of control.
The White Light was flashing across us like searchlights on a World War
I no-man's land. All around me, we were taking casualties. But some of
us would make it to the other side; and someone would bring back something
He decided the first battle should be for the least threatening, most popular
drug: marijuana. Inspired by a VOICE article on the Dutch Provos, he started
the New York Provos with two friends, and called a smoke-in for Tompkins
Square Park. The smoke-ins got bigger and bigger, and after a judge ruled
a roll-your-own cigarette seen from a distance wasn't grounds for arrest,
the Feds moved in an informer who wheedled Dana's personal acid stash out
of him. When he was busted in late August of 1967, 3,000 people marched
from a Fugs concert, across Fourteenth Street, to the federal holding pen
on West Street. It was Dana's first fifteen minutes of fame.
In October the Provos gave out four pounds of pot at the "Levitation
of the Pentagon." Then in December, the Provo Free Store on First Street
was raided, and Dana was charged with a pot sale he didn't do. Convinced
he couldn't get fair treatment, he fl ed to Mexico, then Canada, where he
had to watch Chicago '68 on television.
One day, sitting in a Vancouver community center, he read an ESQUIRE article
on the early psychedelic movement by Tim Leary and Allen Ginsburg. What
stuck in his mind, for years, was a passage about using psychedelics to
cure heroin addiction. (Of course, LSD doesn't stop withdrawal symptoms.
If every junkie could kick with five dollars worth of acid, they'd do just
that every time they wanted to cut back on their habits and start over.
Ginsberg was thinking of it more as a substitute; he writes Leary that Burroughs
said that it would only make withdrawals worse.) [See p. 37].
In April of '69, Dana filtered back into the United States on a Canadian
ID, where he came to rest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Unable to stay away from
organizing for long, he became involved with the White Panthers, and ,
in a psychedelic manifesto (" Right on, Culture Freaks"),
expanded on William Burrough's insight that all forms of social control
resemble addiction because the same "backbrain" reflex component
involved in addiction underlies everyday work routine.
In September Dana travelled to Ann Arbor, where he was appointed Field Marshall
of the WPP, based on his reputation from New York. That didn't last after
the White Panther Party and YIPPIE merged in December. (The Ann Arb or folks
were really organizing to get John Sinclair out of ten years in prison for
When, in the aftermath of Kent State, Abbie, Jerry and the Ann Arbor crew
cancelled the first D.C. July 4 smoke-in, Dana got Rennie Davis to call
it back on. Nixon, emboldened by reports of hard hats beating up peaceniks
in NYC, had called his supporte rs to Washington for a July 4th "Honor
America Day." The smoke-in wound up with three times as many people
as Nixon, and when Billy Graham saw 4,000 protesters marching up the Reflecting
Pool in a spontaneous act of self-baptism, he stopped his sermon.
It took the 1971 July 4 smoke-in, though, where Beal and Forcade added a
march against CIA/Vietnam heroin (and which got airplay on CBS Evening News)
to motivate the authorities to snag Beal on his old warrant. Ten days later
he was busted in Madison, Wisconsin. In September, 2,000 people held a smoke-in
outside the jail, and Dana got his second fifteen minutes of fame.
Dana was not freed of his legal entanglements until five days before the
'72 Demcon. But he reached Miami in time to walk into the vicious split
between the Yippies (Abbie, Jerry) and the Zippies (Forcade and the ex-White
Panthers, minus Ann Arbor, who 'd faded out since Sinclair was released).
There, when McGovern sought to soften his stance against the war on the
morning of his nomination, Beal was one of the leaders of the Zippies/SDS
takeover of the lobby of the candidate's campaign headquarters, at the Doral
He fired the imagination of the counterculture by catching McGovern, hours
before he was nominated, on live prime time, with a trick question. First
he got McGovern to confirm the CIA and the Saigon regime were deeply involved
in pipelining heroin into the U.S. from Vietnam. Then he asked the follow-up:
"How can we protect 26 million Americans who smoke pot from all this
heroin unless we 'control' pot like alcohol, by legalizing it and selling
it over the counter?"
McGovern ducked the question!
For democrats, including Abbie's people who were wooing the democrats, this
was more like fifteen minutes of infamy than fifteen minutes of fame. Never
mind it was the first mass media confirmation that hard drugs had fatally
corrupted the U.S. Intelli gence Community--a view that had become conventional
wisdom by the mid-'80s. Beal made McGovern look bad, on television. For
a long time after that, everything he did after that had to draw its support
from the street people. Twenty-five years later, he's still blackballed
in some quarters, because of that five-minute exchange.
Then, a year later, Abbie was busted selling three kilos of cocaine. When
he went underground, the zippie wing took over. They did lots of things
besides smoke-ins, most notably publicizing the pictures of Hunt and Sturgis
in the grassy knoll--i.e., th e theory that a CIA/Mafia conspiracy coordinated
by Richard Nixon killed Kennedy.* (At the end of the decade, YIPster TIMES
staffers even worked closely with the House Committee on Assassinations,
which concluded there had been a second gun.)
In reaction to the leadership style of Abbie and Jerry, Yippies were almost
more concerned about their own faithful internal practice of formal democracy
than what was happening in Washington, D.C. In July, 1974, as the Impeachment
of Nixon unfolded, Dana spent weeks preparing a second issue with better
comparison fotos of the tramps and Hunt and Sturgis, with story attached
revealing for the first time of Nixon's presence in Dallas until just hours
before the assassination. Then he got on a plane to Washington--Washington
state, where YIPs were having a conference at Spokane. On the plane he sat
next to the only woman who looked aguely hip and showed her "House
to Probe Nixon Death Squad."
She surprised Dana by not only knowing of the story , but adding information
with a personal twist---the focus of the conspiracy that killed JFK was
a cell of high-level drug dealers in the Coast Guard, Customs, and the Office
of Naval Intelligence. They were centered on Long Island and in Philadelphia.
They could never be busted because the Navy, conveniently, was in charge
of investigating itself. Their only Achilles heal was that people on the
inside had access to huge quantities of dope, and sometimes became strung
out. She herself was the daughter of an officer in the Navy or Coast Guard,
and she was being shipped out to Spokane to dry out because she'd become
totally addicted. Dana urged her to come to the conference, to tell her
story to the other YIPs, but she was met at the airport and whisked away.
At the time Dana discounted her story, but years later, after seeing the
autopsy scene in movie JFK, it came flooding back. It was very much on his
mind, just two weeks before Nixon resigned, when everyone at the Spokane
conference did ALD-52 (5-acet yl-LSD, which was represented to them as "LSD
put through an additional step of purification") in a Provo-style attempt
to "get everyone on the same trip."
Robert Goutarel, the father of
Ibogaine research, says indole-alkalamines of the LSD series are fundamentally
different from the iboga-harmala group--"clear and angelic" as
opposed to oneiric (REM-generating). Nonetheless ALD-52 turned out to be
ten or twenty times more psychedelic than LSD. That is, its effects lay
far more in the direction of Ibogaine than a mere "fishbowl effect,"
the "apprehension of the oneness of experience" often referred
to as "seeing God."
Philip K. Dick, writing about his own celebrated religious or Near-Death
Experience (NDE) in early 1974, described the phenomena of "laminate
personality," of being several personalities millennia apart at
the same time. Aron Kay, who took the ALD also, confirms that he had
flashes of the same thing, the definite sensation of co-existing at several
points of time simultaneously: 2,000 years ago, in the present, and some
time up ahead in the future. It was Beal's second vision:
"As we came down to the river," says Dana, "it was like this
other personality was in my mind with me, a dominant personality, who looked
at the water, saw the twentieth-century pollution, and thought: `The water
in this river is totally unacceptable f or performing Baptisms.' And this
other person was kind of daydreaming, not even conscious of the me
there, until I looked at the litter along the streambank and thought--`But
of course, they didn't have non-biodegradable plastics back then.'--and
the other personality kind of noticed I was there, and who I was, and thought:
`Oh, a Baptist (I had attended Baptist Sunday School)...well, just make
sure you don't get your head cut off this time!'"
After puzzling it out ("Who was that masked man?"), Dana
decided this meant he was supposed to avoid taking any unnecessary risks,
until his mission, up in the unknowable future, was accomplished. Aron says
they sat looking at that river for ho urs.
Dana consulted with Lotsof when he got back to New York. "Ibogaine
was more psychedelic than that?"
"On Ibogaine, you would have visualized the other personality as sitting
there talking to you," was Howard's cryptic reply.
The ALD affected the others who took it, Ben Masel, etc., similarly; it
changed the political trajectory of YIP's inner core. Right up to the Brink's
job fiasco in'81, various fringe elements continued to fall for the idea
that membership in some kind of secret armed underground vanguard was hipper
than a mass movement utilizing weapons of information and consciousness.
In 1974, romantic attachment to the S.L.A. (the Symbionese Liberation Army,
which kidnapped Patty Hearst and whose leader, Donald DeFr eeze, was probably
a police provocateur) had seriously competed among the YIPS with the less
glamorous organizing around Nixon's impeachment. After Spokane that was
never a problem.
Within three years the new generation of YIP leaders like Ben Masel had
gotten into TAI CHI, the"passive" martial arts form based on throwing
blocks, not striking blows--and on just not being in the way of your opponents'
blows. Typical of the time was the Yippie action the day after Carter's
inauguration, chaining themselves to the White House fence to draw attention
to several hundred Nixon-era political prisoners still being held long after
COINTELPRO was discredited. They were arrested. And Carter never extended
his amnesty from draft dodgers to political prisoners--hundreds, including
Dhoruba, continued to sit in captivity.
The YIPs really didn't care if they were blacklisted in some circles, or
dismissed as "the marijuana movement," beecause HIGH TIMES was
opening up access to millions of people. By July 4, 1977, they could assemble
the same number of people in front of the White House--10,000--as laid seige
to Chicago in '68. All from a series of ads in HIGH TIMES. In early 1978,
YIPPIE published the SOFT STRATEGY, a major course-correction. You could
say it was based on the TAI CHI concept "soft on the outside, hard
on the inside"--but what predisposed them to getting into TAI CHI in
the first place?
Instead of the knock 'em, sock 'em, blow 'em up approach of the Weather
Underground, they turned to the tough, self-disciplined task of maintaining
a more ingratiating exterior while digging in for the long run. They even
tried to make peace with the o ther wing of the Yippies, earning Abbie's
personal gratitude with the Felt Forum benefit, although not all Abbie's
people wanted to be friends.
When racial fighting dogged New York smoke-ins, it was only a hop, skip
and a jump to start ROCK AGAINST RACISM. And RAR was something Howard and
his Afro-American wife Norma Alexander could comfortably join. A veterans
of the Free Speech Movement, the y'd always been a little too grown-up for
The stage was set. In the early '60s, when Howard tried to initiate an Ibogaine
Project without a support structure in place, it came to nothing. It was
like an egg fertilized at the wrong time, coming down the fallopian tube
and finding the womb is not ready for it.
This time Howard had the support of his personal network as well as Dana,
OVERTHROW, RAR, and the activist YIPPIE wing of the marijuana movement in
practically every state of the Union. And somewhat in reaction to Abbie's
people siding with the SOHO WEEKLY NEWS, the younger generation of YIPS
took a turn toward a more closed decision-making process, making it very
hard to unseat the project once it got going.
In December 1980, Dana Beal was mad as hell, and he wasn't going to take
it anymore. He was willing to "pay any price, bear any burden"
to win the war against addiction--including use of psychopharmaco-chemical
weapons from the CIA's closet.
But there 's a post script:
In September '81, Dana was acquitted of felony assault at the SOHO WEEKLY
NEWS after the judge ruled it was a firecracker, not a bomb, and the jury
convicted him of recklessness, a misdemeanor which netted him thirty-five
days on Riker'sIsland.
While he was waiting to be sentenced, Dana and Alice Torbush attended one
of the first showings of PRINCE OF THE CITY (much of which was shot a few
blocks away from 9 Bleecker on Mulberry Street). It's the story of Danny
Ciello, the narc who narked out the SIU (NYPD Central Narcotics Unit) in
the early '70s. The story had two morals:
1.) Even if police were 100 percent incorruptible, heroin can't be wiped
out, because to penetrate above the street level, agents must either deal
it themselves or maintain a number of dealers as informers. But that gives
a crucial edge to dealers with police connections; soon they dominate the
trade. Organized crime consists of dealers who can buy a cop, an ADA, a
judge, or secure protection from the federal intelligence community.
Cops themselves are damaged by this; in the movie Danny Ciello is moved
to act because his own brother, strung out on smack (the methadone is not
working), begs him for a connection. That night he returns to Manhattan
to supply one of his own snitches after the smack he gave him earlier turns
out to be bogus. So he has to go out in the rainy night, to rip off another
junkie to take care of his informant.
2.) Drugs are impossible to prohibit, but police will not give up drug prohibition
because junkie snitches are their eyes and ears in the community. Without
snitches, they lose control. Moreover, by fostering constant rip-offs, addiction
breaks down so lidarity, breeds paranoia, saps the community's potential
for social revolution. The Panthers were on to something, all right.
But if Black Panthers couldn't stop heroin with machine guns, neighborhood
support, and no need for search warrants, neither can the police with all
the prisons, armed might and sophisticated technology of the State. (Nor
can there be redress through t he courts, as shown later in the '80s when
the Christic Institute tried to sue elements of the Intelligence Community
for bringing 500 tons of cocaine into the country to fund the contras. The
federal judge finedthem $1.2 million for general chutzpah.)
As Dana and Alice left the theatre, another layer of reality fell into place:Fighting
addiction with a War on Drugs is worse than useless. It's misleading.
What we need is a cure, not a war.
Under Reagan, we got the war, not the cure. As the war dragged on, the proponents
of the Dutch harm reduction approach were officially despised, their advice
relegated to the sidelines of public discourse. Only when widespread doubt
set in after revel ations of gross government complicity in the Contra arms-for-drugs
affair was it possible for respectable opposition, beginning with Mayor
Kurt Schmoke of Baltimore, to emerge.
The realcoup de grace was self-inflicted, as the Reagan boom collapsed,
spectacularly, on Black Monday, Oct. 19, 1987. Four days earlier, just before
noon on Thursday the 15th, Dana pulled together four yippie sympathizers
to hold a banner in front of the New York Stock exchange that said "JUMP!"
Dana and co were assailed by irate stockbrockers, but in the next three
days, the market fell 650 points. Later he talked to someone who'd worked
inside, who told him the crash was really just a matte r of the market's
collective coke habit catching up with it. In the picture on the facing
page, Dana is second-from-the-left, head bent behind the banner (NEWSWEEK).
Meanwhile, in the commodity marts of Chicago, Richard Dennis was also betting
the m arket would crash. The difference was that Dennis, a gay libertarian
with a strong belief in drug legalization, walked away with market futures
profits variously estimated from $40 to $400 million. He teamed up with
Arnold Trebach and Kevin Zeese of the Drug Policy Foundation to make a serious
drive to legalize drugs. In autumn of 1988, there were hearings in front
of Congressman Charles Rangel's Select Sub-committee on Narcotics, and ABC
NEWS convened the most American of institutions, an electronic to wn meeting:
...Getting the Last Word--
The Ted Koppel Town Meeting on Drug Legalization, Sept 8th, 1988:
Cong. Rangel: I'm asking you--you say that the 13-year-old can't get it,
as if you have some scheme as to who can get it. Would you have to be an
addict to get it?
Hugh Downs: Anybody can get drugs now.
Cong. Rangel: I'm asking--under legalization--would the pharmacist be able
to give it? Would you have to go to a doctor to get it?
Hugh Downs: Wouldn't he be able to do the same kind of thing as with liquor,
and determine somebody's age
Cong. Rangel: You're asking me questions. I'm asking--what kind of control
would it be?!
I would think that the first thing to do would be to make marijuana legally
available--and fairly readily available.
Ted Koppel: To everyone...
E. Nadelman: To adults. Like alcohol and tobacco, but with stricter controls.
We know right now that sixty million Americans in this country have smoked
marijuana. Between twenty and thirty million are smoking it right now. We
have zero ove rdose deaths. We know that the vast majority of people
who smoke marijuanahave not gone on to harder drugs...
Cong. Rangel: Get to cocaine.
E. Nadelman: Last week the Administrative Judge of the DEA, in a suit which
asked whether or not marijuana should be made legally available for medical
purposes to deal with chemotherapy-
Cong. Rangel: What happened to crack cocaine and heroin?
E. Nadelman: You know the polite thing to do would be to let me at least
finish what I'm saying.
Cong. Rangel: You'll be for legalizing cigarettes next.
E. Nadelman: Listen-- everybody on this panel that's opposed to legalization
is opposed to legalizing marijuana. Now the DEA Judge said that compared
in toxicity to aspirin, marijuana is overwhelmingly safer.
Bob Stutman: It's foolish to legalize marijuana.
E. Nadelman: He said that marijuana is perhaps one of the safest psycho-active
substances ever known to man.
Outburst in the audience!
Ed Koch: Everybody believes--
E. Nadelman: When Mayor Koch talks about throwing users in jail, when Mayor
Koch says that sixty million Americans...
Ed Koch: Everybody believes that the drugs that have to be addressed now
are cocaine and heroin and crack, and when we've addressed those, even though
most of us believe that marijuana ought to not be legalized, that's the
last one on the list...
Outburst in the back of the hall!
Cong. Rangel: He didn't answer the question!
Ed Koch: "...and what he has done is to dodge the issue.
E. Nadelman: Ted, it's the first one. You start with marijuana. Marijuana
of all the illicit drugs is the safest...
Ted Koppel: Hold it! Just all of you hold it one second--turning to the
audience, calling on the source of the outburst--- the gentleman behind
you who was yelling...
Dana: My name is Dana Beal, I've been...
Ted Koppel: I don't care what your name is, what were you yelling about?
Dana: Okay. The exact quote from the Federal Judge was "the safest,
therapeutically active substance known to mankind." That means safer
than caffeine, safer than aspirin...
Ted Koppel: Yeah--
Dana: That means you're putting people in jail for basically doing something
that's completely harmless.
Ted Koppel: Let me turn to--
Dana: How can you talk about locking people up in work camps? How can you
talk about taking people's...
Ed Koch: We're talking about cocaine and heroin.
Dana: ...taking people's homes away from them, evicting people
in New York City. Why don't you want to go after the worst first? And
this is the real point--how can you justify a situation where you've eliminated
pot, but crack--an d heroin--are four times more available, four times cheaper
than at the beginning of the Reagan War on Drugs. All you've done, is design
a system that gets rid of marijuana, leaving hard drugs! That's all you've
Ted Koppel: I think...
Dana: And that's to the guy from the DEA.
Ted Koppel: ...if we can cut that mike over there for a minute now, Dr.
Jaffee, you are one of our most distinguished experts here. ... I would
like to address the question to you, when that Judge---I must confess I
didn't read the decision, I rea d reports of the Judge's the decision--true?
marijuana really the safest-- what was the phrase--"therapeutic drug,
the safest therapeutic drug?"
Ed Rosenthal: The safest therapeutically active substance known to humankind.
Ted Koppel: What do you think Doctor?
I think it's nonsense.
©1995 ~ Cures Not Wars
Last updated February 6, 1995