Tim321
Photo 1995 at Timothy Leary's home
Timothy Leary passed away 10 years ago today. I was with him the evening before he died and I still remember his humor even in his final hour.

I met Timothy Leary in Tokyo in the summer of 1990. Tim was excited about virtual reality and had told his friend David Kubiak in Kyoto to help him track down "young Japanese kids who know about virtual reality". I wasn't a VR expert, but I was into computer graphics, games and the rave/club scene. I had also just opened a nightclub in Tokyo. David, who lived in Kyoto, directed Tim to me and several others in Tokyo and we hooked up with him at a bar.

I hijacked the situation. After dinner I grabbed Tim and took him on a whirlwind tour of the Tokyo club scene. His visit happened to coincide with the time in my life when I was more tuned in to the Tokyo club scene than any other time in my life being the operator of one of the weirder nightclubs in Tokyo. I tried to explain how the Japanese youth were interpreting the rave and cyberpunk cultures. Tim got excited and we continued our dialog. He called these new funky Japanese kids "The New Breed". He changed the "tune in, turn on, drop out" to "tune in, turn on, take over." We talked a lot about neoteny, the retention of child-like attributes in adulthood, which he felt was exhibited in the culture of the Japanese youth at the time.

When I met Tim, I had been exposed to a lot of his work through his early writings and through the writings of people like Robert Anton Wilson. When I asked him whether he had actually talked to aliens as Robert Anton Wilson says in Cosmic Trigger, Tim explained that it was all a joke. A big joke. All that stuff about magic numbers and talking to aliens was a joke. Tim had an interesting relationship with the New Age culture that he helped create in the 60's but his interests had moved on to cyberspace and the next generation of youth. Tim was practical and analytical while also being an amazing performer and communicator. Above all, he was almost always very funny. He called himself a "performing philosopher."

When my mother moved to Los Angeles and I decided to base myself partially out of LA, Tim picked us up at the airport in LA and immediately threw a party for us at his home in Beverly Hills. That weekend, he insisted that we (mom, sister and myself) drive with him to San Francisco so he could introduce us to his friends there. He called Queen Mu, the publisher of Mondo 2000 and asked them to organize a party at the Mondo house. At that party, my sister met Scott Fisher, who she eventually married. We also met Mark Pauline of Survival Research Labs and probably 80% of the people I know in San Francisco. I have a feeling I might have met John Perry Barlow there as well. Tim also took me to the offices of The Well and introduced me to Stewart Brand. In one week, Tim had introduced us to his amazing network and had "plugged us in". I would not be where I am today if it were not for Tim's generosity in making his entire network available to us.

In LA, I spent a lot of time with Tim working on a book and producing a TV show in Japan called "The New Breed" based on our conversations. He enlisted me as a "God Son" which he has been known to do from time to time to people he considered family. I continued to meet people through Tim. Tim's house was always open to anyone and was a crossroads where Hollywood stars, hippies, technologists, academics, artists and just about any other kind of person you could imagine would come and hang out and enjoy his hospitality and share thoughts. I miss Tim very much and I miss the network of people he helped bring and keep together. I am still in touch with many of the people from those days but it's obviously not the same without him. However, I believe his influence and legacy lives on and every day I say my favorite words of his: "Question Authority and Think for Yourself." That is the motto that I live by.

I just got this from Zack Leary, Tim's son.

Zack Leary
Friends,

Ten years ago on this very day Timmy worked up every last bit of strength he had and plopped his cancer ridden vessel into his electric wheelchair. He did his morning ritual of barking at someone to make his coffee and to get his newspaper while he wheeled around the house to then soak up the sun outside on the Sunbrook Drive porch. This day felt different, however. The morning ritual never did go smoothly, but this day it seemed like it was just to much god damn trouble to begin with. He knew that too. After a sip or two of coffee he basically said “fuck it” and got what was left of his ass back in bed. There were not many words left – his fantastic world class verbosity was no longer. His tall proud gorgeous physique was long gone. His mental dance and history lesson of teaching us how to die was complete – it was time to cash in his few remaining chips.

It’s funny when you know that a specific day is going to be THE day someone dies. We all knew that May 31st, 1996 was going to be the day that Timmy was going to die. As he sat in his bed, the kind hospice people calmed his body down to a tranquil enough state for the rest of the crew to go ahead make the necessary arrangements. From about 10 a.m. until midnight many friends made one last trip to the foot of the bed to say their last goodbyes. The gracious republican landlords from next door, some of the wait staff from Mortons, old friends from Hollywood, team members, some family were all there to make good on his dying wish. What a day it was!

I think the only people who were truly freaking out were the rest of us, he was fine. His grace into death was legendary. As the day went on, he treated us to a spontaneous death rap called “Why? Why not” as about a dozen of us sat there laughing and crying. And then sometime very very late he said his last word “beautiful” and then drifted away.

As the coroners came to pick up the stiff we sat in the living room at Sunbrook freaked out and passed out. They wheeled his body out on the gurny and as he was approaching the doorway we have him one last rousing round of applause. A life well lived.

-------

“And then one day you’ll find ten years have got behind you...No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.”

-Roger Waters

“Everyone will get the Timothy Leary they deserve.”

-Timothy Leary

I received this from Michael Gosney.
Michael Gosney
Timothy Leary died exactly 10 years ago today, on May 31, 1996.

Here's a nice selection of his writings, online:
http://www.erowid.org/culture/characters/leary_timothy/
And the WIKIpedia on Tim:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Leary


He was really just one of us, living a meaningful, full life...thriving in exemplary ways... making his unique contributions to our evolution...standing up when no one else would, telling stories along the way: fantastic tales, modern parables, simple foibles, profound insights, hilarious episodes...

Dr. Tim died on May 31, 1996. And on that day I would venture that the backplane of our planetary mind, the spirit world if you will...was vastly enriched with the new edge of human experience that Timothy's life so powerfully embodied. He was a modern hero with whom millions resonated, and whose mind and spirit opened many evolutionary pathways.

Tim was a friend and great inspiration to many. We remember and honor him as the human journey continues!

peace,
Michael

32 Comments

Nice reflection. You were indeed fortunate to have known him personally. I think the world today is a bit poorer without Timothy Leary.

So have you taken LSD or what?

That line about being a "performing philosopher" serves as wonderful reminder to me that that one doesn't need to specialize in order to do great things. It makes me think of Brian Eno and his refusal to describe himself as a musician.

Where have all the Hippies gone? Hummers, IpoDz, Cyberspace and the Ozone layer

I had never met Timothy Leary. Now I did. In a world in which we have more virtual encounters than personal meetings it is more likely for your virtual persona to live on. Especially if you have a simple, meaningful message that endures over time. Blogging is new. One day famous bloggers will begin to die. It would be interesting to see what happens to their blogs. They may live on as well.

...thank you for sharing Joi.

Remember Osley Owls?

My understanding is that he was your godfather (correct?). Since you met him in 1990, I assume that this arrangement came about rather late in your life (ie this did not represent a re-connection between Leary and your family whereby he had become your godfather at some point when you were very little)?

Peter: That's correct. Tim had his own definition of "Godfather/God Son" (sometimes written as "God Sun").

Lela : You're talking about Owsley right? If so, I remember meeting him once at a Dead concert. John Perry Barlow introduced him to me. He was quite an interesting character. ;-)

Actually, I might be slightly mistaken. I think Tim knew Winona Ryder's parents before she was born. Her father was Tim's archivist. Tim may have been her Godfather in a more traditional sense.

Thank you for writing this post. You are also extremely generous in a way that's uniquely your own, yet also related/inspired to/by Tim.

What an incredible story. Thank you for sharing a bit of your unique life Joi. Timothy will be missed by a multitude of freethinkers. Can't believe it has already been ten years since his passing. Question Authority, Think for Yourself, and never pass up the opotunity to pry open yout Third Eye.

"The most dangerous man in America", Internet enthusiast, and space traveller. (he was literally in orbit for over six years) May he continue to rest in peace.

Wow (and I don't mean world of warcraft), touching post. What an interesting life you lead...

I felt his presence this week before i even knew it was the anno of his passing. Timoth Leary LIVES!

thanks for sharing Joi. This is very insightful post.

I tend to agree on the "New Bread" concept. I wonder how many can aruge the fact between "tune in, turn on, drop out" to "tune in, turn on, take over." !!

Hey Joi, your memory is not quite serving you right. The way you met Tim was this:

Marianne Faithfull was doing a few concerts in Japan, and since she was an old friend of mine, being formerly married to John Dunbar, with whom I had worked at the Indica Gallery in London, she contacted me and invited me to a performance. Afterwards I was in her dressing room when Tim and Barbara, along with Alison, James Grauerholz, and a couple of others came in. They were in Tokyo at the expense of whoever it was that was starting the J-trip bars, who wanted various people from Bill Burrough's world to put in nightly appearances at the club...

I got to talking with Tim about computers, and when we all went off to dinner, the conversation continued with Alison, who was looking for people in Japan to help Mondo 2000. (At the time I was editing the Tokyo PC User's Club newsletter). At the end of the evening she asked me if I would be willing to be Mondo's Japan editor. I was not confident that I could handle it by myself, partly as I was living outside Tokyo. I felt it would be better to share the responsibility with someone more plugged in to the larger Tokyo cyber-scene.

I had heard quite a bit about you from Dakid Kubiak, so the next day I contacted him and got your phone number. I then called you and asked if you'd like to meet Tim. You immediately agreed, and Tim and I waited for you in a restaurant in his hotel. You two hit it off immediately, and the rest is history...

I'm surprised you forgot this, since on several of his subsequent visits I provided the transport as we did the rounds of clubs and other gatherings together. I eventually had to drop out of working for Mondo, as they paid no money, and I could not afford the expenses of entertaining and otherwise helping out the various virtual reality-related visitors to Tokyo, and felt bad about letting you pay at restaurants and other places....

Hi Joi --

I'm glad to have found your blog. Tim loved you very much and it always brightened his week when you came to town. Thank you for writing this tribute to him. We miss him, and we miss the friends he brought together.

Lindsay

Really, one of the most fascinating blog entries I've read in some time. Honestly speaking, I've read and heard a good bit about both Tim and yourself and I would have never guessed the two of you had ever crossed paths, nonetheless melded minds so deeply and ended up close like family. Thank you for sharing and pushing open my mind just that bit further.

quite a moving story... thank you for sharing something close to your heart ~

Joi,

Great, great great post.
Was nice to see human side of Tim.

Chris

Joi,

I was missing "TIM" so I did a google search on him ...and randomly picked your page.

You changed my mood instantly with your stories about your meetings with him. How fortunate you were to have been so close to TIM.

"THANK YOU ! ...from a Visual Psyber-naut with a mission to wake the consciousness of a NEW BREED "

VJ Psyberpixie

This is a fascinating story. The effect of Timothy Leary's work has been profound and continues to this day. His philosophy of embracing chaos is a marvelous catalyst to bring about change for those of us locked into the deceptive rituals contrived by our cultures.

Does anybody know where Tim Leary lived in Newton MA? I have my father in town (I live in Newton, MA) and he is a big fan and would like to stop and see the outside of the house.

Mark

I had never met Timothy Leary. Now I did. In a world in which we have more virtual encounters than personal meetings it is more likely for your virtual persona to powerleveling. Especially if you have a simple, meaningful message that endures over time. Blogging is new. One day famous bloggers will begin to die. It would be interesting to see what happens to their blogs. They may live on as well.

thanks for your bytes of tim's time in japan.
so much of his later cyber-era stuff concerned japanese society - maybe his early visits and experimentation there left a lasting impression.
thanks too for broadcasting tim without the LSD hype that the media just cannot ignore. he was as much to the electronic scene as he was to the tryptamine scene.
its blogging and foruming like this that keeps his consciousness 'alive' in the electrosphere, just as his ideas for immortality projected.
i wonder what he would say about the tens years since his deanimation?

Mark asked (in July, but I've not looked at this page until recently, where in Newton Tim Leary lived.

On Tim's various trips to Tokyo, I used to hang out with him quite often, and on one occasion he mentioned that he had lived in Newton. As I grew up there myself, I asked him where, and to my astonishment, it turned out he had lived in the house next door to the one where I spent my childhood. I was vary familiar with interior of the house, since the children of the family that lived there at the time were friends of mine and my sisters.

My address was 251 Grant Avenue, which was right on the corner of Grant and Beacon St. The next house up Grant, whose number I don't remember, is the house Tim stayed in, though by that time I was long gone...

Hey....just wondering where is Jackie. I spent the summer with him at Castalia. We stayed on the third floor while Susan was at the end of the hall on the second floor. Tim and Rosemary for the most part were with the League in TeePees. I recall how the 2 dogs loved riding back and forth in the land rover. Between the Liddy harrassment, numerous interviews from the news media and Art and Wendys wedding it was a summer to remember.

On Tim's various trips to Tokyo, I used to hang out with him quite often, and on one occasion he mentioned that he had lived in Newton. As I grew up there myself, I asked him where, and to my astonishment, it turned out he had lived in the house next door to the one where I spent my childhood. I was vary familiar with interior of the house, since the children of the family that lived there at the time were friends of mine and my sisters.info

Great, great great post.

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