Wednesday, May 5, 2010

How I Escaped Jonestown







In 1977 I was hitchhiking  through Guyana after leaving Venezuela.  I planned to head down the Atlantic coast visiting Charity ending up in the capital Georgetown.  I had scored some badass dope in Caracas including some yage, so I ate a handful and it starting doing a job on my head. I was stumbling through the jungle feeling like Simon Bolivar being chased by local Indians. When the Indians finally caught up on the peripheral, I saw large Mayan heads with no bodies and big toothy grins.  I fell down in the jungle mud consumed by hallucinations. The leaves and vines wrapped themselves around me so I couldn't move. I just looked at the mosaics unfolding before my eyes. I felt intense burning as though consumed by white flame. Then I saw the ugly head of Satan who was puncturing my body with his pitch fork, leaving holes, as if he was checking to see when the barbecue was finished. I was stuck in this shit hole alone, tripping my fucking brains out, somewhere near the Cuyuna River. I knew I had to get up and out or something bad was going to happen. You could get strangled by a Python or shredded by Pirañas here. Sometimes when tripping on yage, you felt your soul could leave your body and not come back, leaving a corpse. Maybe Satan wanted me back in hell to marinate.  I pulled it together and started walking, looking for the Cuyana River.
The People's Temple was a fundamentalist cult that was founded and led by James Warren Jones  (1931-1978) RIP.  Jones held degrees from Indiana University and Butler.  In the 1950s Jones set up The Peoples Temple in Indianapolis, Indiana, as a mission for the homeless and sick with a following of 900 members. The Rev. Jones was doing stuff with his flock in the name of the Lord, that was unheard of in the 1950s.

Jim Jones as a preacher was a combination Marxist and fundamentalist. His sermons spoke of helping the poor and downtrodden with  love. He would also talk of freedom for all, witch meant freedom for him from the Feds, reflecting his distrust of big business and government.  He preached on racial equality and his flock was interracial.  He would preach against White Christianity saying they didn't connect with God. Thinking to himself how unhip the Whites of the 50s were compared to him, and it was true, because Jones was eating white crosses like cotton candy and getting all the hot Black Pussy he wanted (cherry picked from his flock).  This was very radical for the times.  You could say that the Rev. Jim Jones was so ahead of his time that it made him invisible, shielded by the cloak of the Lord and his intense out of control weirdness.

The Rev. Jones knew how to suck up spirit energy like a vampire. He really didn't care were it came from,  scripture for him were just something  to use to get what he wanted, he was a son of Satan.  The dude was a hip dresser though, burgundy silk shirts, black and white polyester trousers and Crocodile skin boots. The Reverend dressed like Howling Wolf. He was what Norman Mailer called a "White Negro", this is why he chose to live in the hood and preach to Black People. I think the other reason the hood appealed to Jones was that all the good dope was there in the 50s and 60s. And like Robert Deniro, the dude loved Black Pussy.

Any  Pentecostal tent preacher with chops would stage "faith healings". The healings attracted followers and brought in big bucks.  Jones was no different from Jerry Falwell, Oral Roberts, Earnest Ansley and the Devil himself, Pat Robertson.  All the aforementioned preachers who are now legit and on TV, were tent preachers back in the 50s and 60s. They would roam rural America parking outside of  towns  and set up tents, like the circus.  Every night in every town miracles happened, people threw away their crutches and were cured of cancer as the money baskets filled up by the second.  Of course the miracle scene was bogus, partly staged using such paranormal aids as emotional pandemonium and self hypnosis. In the end thanks to short memory, the healed patients settled for a moment of glory in the spotlight of the Lord and hopefully were given their crutches back. 

Reverend  Jim Jones was of course  a master of the healing scam.  I can see him now in his  silk burgundy shirts, Croc skin boots and purple tinted specs, heavy vibes emanating from a potent mixture of Satan and speed, having the power to knock people to hell and back with one touch of his claw like hand. 

By 1970 the Feds were investigating Jone's "faith healings", and he was preaching about the end of the world and nuclear war. Feeling the heat from the Feds he moved his flock from Indiana to San Francisco and then LA. 

While in California the Rev started to have powerful hallucinations, thanks to his experience shooting  speed, smoking cocaine and eating demerol .  Jim would connect and talk to aliens as he astral projected into the universe beyond, space tripping, bringing home messages that went beyond scripture. Jones became a space cadet in the literal form.  He called the tripping out process "Translation"  and his vision qwest  told him to commit suicide with his flock in mass. And that all their souls would transcend planet earth and go to a new home in the galaxy living in perfect harmony and spiritual bliss. 

Meantime back on planet earth the Feds in LA were watching The People's Temple and the space prophet Jim Jones. This time they were wanted for selling illegal fire arms and dope in East LA. The Temple was facing a major bust so Jones leased 4000 jungle acres in Guyana and moved his flock there establishing The Peoples Temple Agricultural Project, a co-op, that by fate would become more like a concentration camp. As Jones became more paranoid the heavier the brainwash became and once in Guyana, the Rev began to practice the routine of drinking  Cool-Aid and having his followers lay down and play dead. 

After walking  through the jungle for a few days, Northeast, on the Cuyuna river I stumbled upon a dirt road. Without a compass or a map I decided to flip a lucky coin to determine my direction, heads was left, tails was right, it was tails so I started walking  East. I felt like puking from eating yage and drinking river water full of Croc shit . I was carrying a good supply of dope, but had no food or water. Only a junky thinks of dope first and food second. I rolled a bone and headed down the road with the blues in my bones to the promise land. 

At this point recollection is  hard for me. I have blacked out most my memories of Jonestown in drunken drug stupors. I was getting hungry and thirsty, talking out loud to myself, eating any mushroom in sight poison or not, who could tell? Then I heard a vehicle coming down the road. It was a dude in a Toyota pickup, oddly enough a White Canadian dude says hello and asked me what I was doing this deep in the jungle? I told him I was lost trying to find my way to Charity . He then said "dude you are 900 Kilometers from Charity and headed in the opposite direction". Then he started talking about a spiritual commune not far up the road that grew their own food and followed a very high (on dope) spiritual master named Reverend Jones.  It was called Jonestown, he asked me if I wanted to check it out?  I had no food or water so I didn't have much to lose. I didn't want to seem desperate so I asked the dude, " is there any pussy and dope at this place" ,  checking  to see if the cult was redneck or not ? And Dave said " yeah dude we got plenty of it!" So I jumped in the bed of the truck and we headed to Jonestown. As we rolled down the dirt road Dave opened the rear window panel and began to speak. He told me his Jonestown story, how he was wondering the streets of LA one day blasted, broke and on empty.  Then he heard screaming and odd noises, so he followed the sound. He could see white flame coming out of a marble building down the block on Picos Blvd. He felt a strong urge and went in. It was like a scene out of Hell, people were throwing Rattlesnakes, spraying vodka from their mouths like voodoo priest and talking in tongues. Dave said he fell into the fold, swept away bye the Holy Spirit , invigorated, he never looked back. Dave made the trip to Jonestown with Jim Jones and his flock.

At the entrance to the commune there was a red and white painted sign that read  " Welcome to Jonestown". Dave drove the pick up to a warehouse and we picked up some blankets and towels.  The one level housing was built of lumber, drywall, aluminum siding and cheap asbestos roofing. Men, women and children were segregated. Jonestown was like  a voodoo  summer camp. Dave told me to go relax until supper and I got a chance to meet my roommates.  There were four dudes of mixed race in there twenties, they nodded and started talking to me. One said he was the keeper of the poison snakes used in worship, the other said he worked in the vegetable garden.  Then one of them said he worked in the temple pharmacy. I asked him what they had in the pharmacy and he said " you name it we got it, if you want to come by after chores and sample pharmaceutical grade shit you are welcome". And then to my amazement he said  "if you want buds it is grown up the hill in a jungle clearing". At this point The Peoples's Temple, weirder than weird, began to feel like home. My  new roommates were  speaking but I knew their minds were detached from their bodies. They were vapid, their speech was vacant of emotion, flat. I knew I couldn't fuck these dudes up anymore than they were, so I rolled a bone. As we were smoking the killer shit, I realized that even good dope couldn't bring these zombies back to life. 

Supper was very plain, vegetables, pork, chicken and potatoes all boiled together in the same pot with no seasoning of any kind. Then  slopped on your plate. The gathering of the flock gave me a chance to check out the ladies. There were some hot Black and Latino babes cleaning tables.  They looked ready as they bent over flashing cleavage. I knew they would put out easily because they were in a trance. Usually blissed out chicks are not good lays, but as they say, any port in a storm. After dinner a temple lieutenant told me I would be working in the banana field the following day.   

Then he said "the Reverend wants to  talk to you".  I was extremely  nervous  and wondered what my fate would be. I felt as though I was asked to visit Colonel Kurtz the evil special forces officer who "went rogue" as played by a wasted Marlin Brando in the film Apocalypse Now.  So the dude pointed to a well lit house on a small hill and said " the Reverend lives up there". I walked up a erie path and knocked on a large carved wood double door. Two Black Chicks and a Latino Women, all three with huge Afros and major tits and ass answered the door and said " we have been expecting  you sweets". The three were wearing see through blouses and short shorts.  When I entered the house I immediately saw a man sitting in a dark wood chair that was designed to look like a Cobra. I recognized the Satanic figure as the Rev Jim Jones. He wore the usual garb but this time he was wrapped in a black cape, also wearing  a upside down silver cross and heavy chain around his neck, very bizarre for a Evangelist.  Then he asked, " what's your name partner"?  I told him "Victor Burgundy" .  The nasty smell of freebased cocaine and sulfur filled the room, the vibe felt as evil as Hitler's bunker . Jones then asked me " where's you home mister" ? I said  " ah nowhere dude, like nowhere man". Jones then switched the subject to more important things, " what kind of shit are you carrying Victor" ? I said  " got some killer weed and coca leaf ". The Reverend gave me a  look like he couldn't be bothered with weed and leaf and pulled out a kilo of pure cocaine and a kilo of "China White". Jones then said  "do you know how to cook a speedball son"? I told him "sure Rev".  At this point the bitches wanted to join in on the fun so they walked over and laid next to Jones. I started refining spoonfuls of dope mixed with glycerol, cooking it down over a church candle, then locking and loading  Jone's works ,a large black syringe with a silver celtic cross on it.  One of his bitches  was strapping and tightening a red patent leather belt around his arm, struggling to find a vein that hadn't collapsed.  I was happy to just snort cocaine and China White with a  rolled up old Peso while  "cooking up the sauce " for the Reverend as he shot up speedball after speedball. The dude made Sid Vicious look like a light weight.

After awhile we were  totally blasted, moon walking in outer space. One of the girls came over and sat by me and I buried my head in her  hooters and started sniffing like a dog.  Her Afro looked as though it had vines that were growing upwards into space, like a hundred sprouting beanstalks. At this point Jones became expansive and said "as we speak I am in another galaxy negotiating with the masters of the universe. My flock and I will be mind traveling to our planet of love and peace". Going on to say "Victor tomorrow is going to be a special day for planet earth, 900 souls and I are going to commit suicide by drinking  Cool-Aid  laced with cyanide , sedatives, liquid valium, pentagram and chloral hydrate, ( wow man, if you took out the cyanide that would be one awesome mother fuckin cocktail!).  I realized that Reverend Jones wasn't kidding and had been doping so long that he believed his own hallucinations . I then told the Rev a tale of how my loving mother used to force feed me Cool-Aid when I was sick, and that it made me puke. Then I thoughtlessly said " Reverend, what if your travel plans don't take off  as planned and you end up killing  your flock for no good reason" ? Jones  screamed " Boy, come on over here and kneel before the Lord",  I thought he was going to take confession , but he pulled out a 45 caliber hand gun and put it to my head.  He said " Son do you want to be the first to go" ? and I said, "  No sir Reverend dude, but ah…. who will cook your dope for you" ?  The Rev was passing out but I asked  " you know that Cool-Aid makes me puke, and I haven't been initiated into the cult, so could I take a pass on the trip to the galaxy" ?  Then Reverend space dude  passed out, I thought about shooting the fucker with his own gun! Then a group of  temple guards walked in, armed with rifles, and told me to get the fuck out!  I passed out in my bunk feeling, "10,000 light years away from home."  The following morning I woke up to the sound of loud speakers blaring at unnatural decibel levels. I looked out of my window and what I saw was not reassuring. 


The people of Jonestown were being and herded by the Reverend's enforcers and lieutenants carrying carbines. Some folks went on their own volition and others had to be forced at gun point and even shot if they refused.  The enforcers still hadn't seen me so I took a run for it in the jungle and of course ran into a goon with a rifle. The man put his gun to my head so I said, "cool no problem, I was just out here taking a piss cause I didn't know if there were any lavatories on the space ship." When I got to the lift off area I could see people lined up to drink the poison Cool-Aid. 
They knew it was for real and looked resigned for one reason or another. The fucker Jim Jones was so full of the himself that he looked as though he was in a convulsion, like James Brown dancing, speaking in tongues and preaching scripture. What happened next has no explanation, Jones said looking into the crowd of people, " Victor is that you? come on up here and help mix the Cool-Aid". The crowd  parted and I made it to the Cool-Aid, I took one whiff of the stuff and immediately puked in the barrel. The Reverend looked back and saw what happened, he said " come here son", I knew it was the final curtain. Then Jones says to me " Victor go get a bundle of coconuts in the jungle and bring em back to mix with the Cool-Aid". Well, you know what happened next, I walked away from the Cool-Aid cool and nonchalant and once I stepped into the jungle, I bolted, setting  a Olympic speed record and never looked back till I made it to Georgetown. 

Once in Georgetown I checked into a "love motel", turned on the TV, took a shower and snorted some cocaine I ripped off from the Rev. Not to my surprise every channel had the news of the Jonestown cult of Death. They were piecing together the story as the authorities looked for survivors. Well I didn't want anything to do with the  Georgetown cops, because cops seem to like to keep folks from having a good time.


So I kept my mouth shut and staid in my motel room for a couple of weeks, only going out to eat.
My only thought after escaping death at Jonestown is, I hope the Rev Jones and his flock made it to were ever it is they were soul traveling. 

No comments: