(Copyright 2002 Al Aronowitz)



 is one of those heroes of the "60s underground who altered the development of culture in America.

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

Arabian horses
have two
fewer vertabrae

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 run.

'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, "Okay."

'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 for everybody."

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

Was Tom depressed
from doing
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

Tom 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.    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 did, right?

'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 a statesman."

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

A Trilateralist mole
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 show.

"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 state. 

'that's how he got close to Jimmy Carter, a Democrat.  That is how come the former number two man of BNDD under Nixon became the drug czar under Carter.  That's all I got to say about that. "  ##



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