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Timothy Leary in Laguna Barbara Diamond, Coastline Pilot September 23, 2005 - coastlinepilot.com
Laguna Beach was the LSD capital of the world starting in mid-1960s and was still home to droppers, dopers and dealers until 1981, according to an unpublished book, "The Jesus Dealers," written by Ted Taylor in collaboration with former Police Chief Neal Purcell.
In its heyday, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, founded by Timothy Francis Leary, was allegedly selling dope in Laguna at health food stores, juice bars, psychedelic shops, record stores, surf shops and even a used car lot. Woodland Drive was considered their base, known to local law enforcement as "Dodge City."
Purcell joined the police department as a rookie in 1968, one of two officers assigned to narcotics investigations. He had previously been a patrol officer in Newport Beach.
His career in Laguna Beach lasted until 1997, when he retired after 15 years as chief of the department. He has subsequently taken on interim assignments in communities that are searching for new chiefs.
Taylor is the prolific author of books for young people and adults. He is internationally known for "The Cay," which is required reading in many schools.
"Neal first got in touch with me in 1996 and said please, do the story," Taylor said. "I was working on three or four things at the time, but we finally got together.
"The Jesus Dealers" is dedicated to Purcell's wife, Michelle, and their children, as well as to members of his law enforcement "family" who worked countless hours trying to bring down Timothy Leary and the Brotherhood, and to the "unfortunate young victims of this ruthless organization of greedy, self-serving zealots."
The Purcells make their post-retirement home in Montana.
In the book, Purcell recalled his belief when he joined the Laguna department that the Brotherhood was harmless.
"The BEL [Brotherhood of Eternal Love] still appeared to be just an unorthodox, goofy location operation, a pain ... but no hippie mafia," Purcell writes.
"Some of the trouble was with the town itself. Many people still didn't believe a dope problem existed, aside from personal stash sales. The new liberal members of the City Council kept hemorrhaging around the heart. They were total losses. Caught in the backwash of the Flower Children, the whole thing was transient, they said, and would sooner or later go away."
Purcell hadn't yet met Leary, although he knew of him and didn't like what he knew. They crossed paths for the first time just before midnight on Dec. 26, 1968. As fortune would have it, Purcell's arrest of Leary that night was the only one by any police officer that ever stuck.
According to Purcell, he spotted a car in the middle of Woodland, illegally parked near Roosevelt Lane, blocking traffic. Inside the vehicle he saw a gray-haired man pushing a younger man who was trying to get into the front seat of the station wagon. Purcell could smell the distinctive odor of recently burned pot when the gray-haired driver rolled down the window. It was Leary, the man Purcell already hated.
"Can this truly be?" Purcell thought. "Maybe I have gotten lucky."
Purcell said he had probable cause to search the vehicle, based on the reek of pot. He called for backup, then asked Leary to step out of the vehicle and began his search. He said he found two roaches in an ashtray, a pound of marijuana, two ounces of hashish and some LSD caps.
Even near death, Leary swore Purcell planted the drugs. However, the courts saw it differently, and he served three years in jail -- but not before managing a jail-break in September 1970 while serving a one- to 10-year sentence.
Fleeing to Afghanistan with his wife, Rosemary, Leary eluded capture for three years, but his luck ran out in 1973. Rosemary ended up spending 23 years living underground -- her original sentence was six months to a year.
Leary died in his sleep on May 31, 1996.
To this day, Purcell has not forgiven Leary for what he did to the city and residents of Laguna Beach, particularly young people. It's all there in the manuscript, a work in progress.
"And it's all true," author Taylor said. "The manuscript is the first draft. It is now being edited -- I am a writer, not an editor. That should be completed in two or three weeks. The final version will be typed and sent to New York.
"My agent has three prospective publishers. So we should know in about a month."
The book represents a significant chunk of Laguna Beach history, and should be preserved, preferably in both manuscript and book form, either at the Laguna Beach Library or the Laguna Beach Historical Society.
Yeah man, Tim Leary really fucked up all those young people! What a shame!
-------------------- Acid doesn't give you truths; it builds machines that push the envelope of perception. Whatever revelations came to me then have dissolved like skywriting. All I really know is that those few years saddled me with a faith in the redemptive potential of the imagination which, however flat, stale and unprofitable the world seems to me now, I cannot for the life of me shake.
Yes he did. And in doing so, he changed the world.
-------------------- My advice to people today is as follows: If you take the game of life seriously, if you take your nervous system seriously, if you take your sense organs seriously, if you take the energy process seriously, you must turn on, tune in, and drop out. - Timothy Leary