"I interrupted him: 'If I were to tell you that I have discovered the fundamental way of life, and I could explain to you exactly how to achieve it, it would be very difficult for you to accept.' Byron nodded. Carlos nodded. And I continued, 'But if I tell you what a mysterious teacher has revealed to me, who has initiated me into some great mysteries, then it will seem more interesting. It's much easier to accept.' LikeThe Razor's Edge, said Allen. Like Siddhartha, said Byron. Carlos nodded as if understanding perfectly."
MARGARET RUNYAN CASTANEDA: A Magical Journey With Carlos Castaneda
In the Fall of 2005 I had the opportunity to meet with and interview Margaret Runyan Castaneda, the former wife of the author Carlos Castaneda, near her home in Peoria, Arizona. The primary intent of the meeting, at least for me personally, was to erase some doubts regarding a variety of inconsistencies that continually crop up in or around almost any serious discussion related to the Informant and Carlos Castaneda as well as Castaneda's 1960 Paper on Datura.
Even though I had met Carlos Castaneda prior to Don Juan Matus ever entering the picture, that is, during the late 1950s and just into the 1960s, the same period of time Runyan met and then married Castaneda, I had never seen or talked to her prior to our 2005 meeting --- and, as fate or karma would have it, a totally unplanned meeting that came about initially through what seemed no more than a long string of unrelated events --- and far as I know, her last interview related to anything Castaneda.
In early August of 2005 a few wispy clouds, like thousands of others have over the millenniums, sauntered off the west coast of Africa into the Atlantic developing into a low pressure system that eventually formed into a tropical depression around Bermuda. From there it turned into a hurricane that crossed over Florida into the Gulf of Mexico after having been given the name Katrina. On the morning of Monday, August 29, 2005 the center of the eyewall of Katrina passed a little bit east of 50 miles due south of New Orleans, Louisiana, crossing directly over the small communities of Buras-Triumph on the western side of the Mississippi River.
Watching the storm-track as it raced across the Gulf aimed directly towards New Orleans, all the while anticipating the enormous devastation and loss of lives that would eventually befall the city and the surrounding area, I volunteered with the American Red Cross to join their relief efforts in any way possible. After a medical OK, shots, fingerprints, interviews, and a couple of required, albeit quickly done back-to-back courses, in a day or two I was deployed as a national level DSHR worker in conjunction with Katrina. No sooner had I begun getting the swing of actual feet-on-the-ground intricacies involved with deployment than Hurricane Rita hit. Because of the on-rushing of Rita, already in place Katrina shelters in her potential path were evacuated and shut down. A good portion of the shelter crews from the closed sites near the area I was deployed were sent to Austin, then reassigned. Some went to the mega-shelters in Houston and Austin, others like myself put into crews starting and running short term emergency shelters north of Austin near Round Rock then, when they were no longer needed, on to new shelters being set up in the hurricane's inland destruction path along the Texas side of the Texas-Louisiana border.
Eventually my original three week deployment was edging toward six. After working three shelters putting in 18 hour plus days with no days off for Rita, I was about to be sent to Houston when I was assigned to a Red Cross Service Center in Austin. I had just come out of shelter duty from what the Red Cross calls a "primitive area" because it had no running water, electricity, phones, air conditioning, showers, or gasoline. When I told the person at the assignment desk in Austin I could really make use of a laundry mat and a shower before I was reassinged, rather than send me to the mega-shelter in Houston he assigned me to the Service Center --- I mean only nine hour days with Sundays off! Talk about plush.
Finally, as things began to wind down and return to as normal as they could considering the situation, and people began regaining some manner of control over their lives, the Red Cross began finding itself with a redundant amount of material, equipment, and personnel. Some of that redundant equipment was what the Red Cross calls ERVs ---Emergency Response Vehicles. Hundreds and hundreds of ERVs had been driven from cities and areas all around the U.S. to the areas of devastation --- then, when the original crews had been rotated out with new crews made up of volunteers from almost anyplace taking over, and over time eventually less and less ERVs needed, without the original crews to return them to their home base, hundreds of ERVs began to stack up. So said, because those ERVs without original crews needed to be returned and the cost of flying down hundreds of original drivers was way to expensive, the Red Cross began requesting already inplace individuals that were scheduled to rotate out, and willing to drive an ERV rather than fly, to do so. Since my deployment time had long since passed and driving an ERV across country sounded like a potential adventure I headed down to Houston to see if I could bag one off.
The person in charge of hooking drivers up with ERVs told me the last two ready-to-go ERVs headed in the same direction I was had just been assigned. One just left for the San Diego area, the other was leaving the next morning for northern California. He said it would be at least four, possibly five days before another west coast ERV would be fully checked out and ready to go, unless I was interested in going in some other direction, I would just have to hang out for a few days.
Before I had a chance to mull over going in another direction, the driver of the ERV heading toward northern California, overhearing my dilemma, suggested I go with him and share driving responsibilities since the distance to the ERV home base was nearly 2000 miles away. The only thing, he said, I would have to make do sitting in the back until Kerrville, Texas, as he had promised to drop off a fellow volunteer somewhere around there who had lost her ride --- telling me in the process that she had promised him Kerrville was right on the way, somewhere up along the I-10 north of San Antonio. Since I was actually assigned to Red Cross National in Austin and not Houston, to make things uncomplicated, that night, after I happened upon two or three volunteers hiding out amongst the ERVs waiting for their rides to come up and sharing a couple of beers with them, I curled up the best I could inside an unlocked ERV and fell asleep. The next morning early I was headed north on the I-10 out of Houston.
Volunteers returning ERVs for the Red Cross have gas, food, and lodging paid for by the agency. There are a couple of hitches involved however, one being a few rules that they really don't emphasize a whole lot before you sign up to deliver an ERV. Since I wasn't an official driver I wasn't given the rules, but I was told they include such things as that you can only drive so many miles a day and then only in daylight hours. You can't purchase gas just anywhere, you can only use certain select station brands. Same with motels. If you expect the Red Cross to pick up the tab on gas, room, or board you can only stay in or use certain approved chains, which means one of the chain motels has to be where you end your day's travel, etc., etc., all of which requires a certain amount of planning and timing, undercutting any idea, unless you have the funds or are willing to pay out of pocket yourself, of a pure breeze in your face king of the road approach --- something I wondered if the Red Cross didn't work into their budget anyway.
Two-hundred-and-sixty miles west along I-10 from Houston, all the while following the rules as laid out by the Red Cross, we arrived in Kerrville. After bidding adieu to the other volunteer I moved into the much more comfortable passenger seat. About an hour out of Kerrville, after mostly back and forth banter and small talk, the driver started telling me he had only just graduated from a major California university in June, as did his girlfriend. She went on to graduate school while he selected to go do Katrina and Rita stuff before moving on, he hoped, to a stint in the Peace Corps. His girlfriend was attending the University of Arizona in Tucson, a city we would be going through by staying on I-10. What he wanted to know was, hinting for whatever reason he didn't think I was one much for rules, would I be willing to speed up the process to get into Tucson early, stay a couple of days so he could see his girlfriend, then pick up speed on the other side afterwards so we could catch up to be on schedule.
Seeing no real problem with his plan I just kicked back and watched mile after mile of the Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona countryside roll by. It had been well over 45 years since I had traveled across all the same states by motor vehicle, only going east then rather than west, and long before Interstate 10 was even started, let alone completed. It was the day after Thanksgiving 1958. I was riding in the cab on the passenger side of a race car transporter carrying Ferraris and Maseratis to Maimi, Florida then by boat on to Nassau in the Bahamas for Speed Week. The driver of the transporter was none other than the top race car mechanic Joe Landaker, as reported in Of Cobras, Scarabs, Maseratis and Zen. Even though the roads and highways were nothing anywhere like the Interstates of today, and the transporter was loaded with vehicles, tires, and tools, Landaker seldom ever let the speedometer needle drop under 100 miles per hour for any length of time.
BEFORE ERV'S: MY 100 MPH MODE OF TRANSPORTATION, CALIFORNIA TO MIAMI IN 1958
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Although we traveled at nearly half the speed of Landaker on his way to Nassau, we still arrived in Tucson well ahead of schedule. I was soon introduced to the driver's girlfriend and her roommate, a longtime friend of the girlfriend that the driver knew as well. Before I had a chance to beat a hasty departure the roommate's boyfriend showed up, who of which she had only just met that September when she started graduate school. So, while the driver, his girlfriend and the roommate dwelled on-and-on into old times, the roommate's boyfriend and I were left to fend for ourselves. Typically, I wouldn't care one way or the other, however when the boyfriend walked in an interesting thing happened. As he tossed his backpack onto the couch a well-worn copy of Carlos Castaneda's third book, Journey to Ixtlan, fell to the floor. When I asked him about the book he told me he was a heavy duty Castaneda fan, and an anthropology major. When I told him a onetime professor Edward H. Spicer, now deceased, and a longtime critic of Castaneda, practically founded the Anthropology Department at the University of Arizona, he told me he knew of Spicer and his works and that Spicer was one of the reasons he was doing his graduate work there. He told me he was working on a term paper on Castaneda for one of his classes and in the process of doing research discovered Castaneda's ex-wife, Margaret Runyan, lived a little over 100 miles north in the outskirts of Phoenix. Not only that he said, he had talked to her on the phone and had met her once AND was going to meet with her again in a couple of days. My jaw fell open. The last I heard Runyan had basically disappeared from the public-light, living somewhere in West Virginia. I told the boyfriend that I would very much like to go with him as Runyan and I had mutual friends and I would at least like to say hello if possible.
The boyfriend shrugged his shoulders in a it really didn't matter to him sort of way and the driver of the ERV said he had no problem staying an extra day, so on the day of the meeting I joined the roommate's boyfriend on the trip north. We left Tucson early in the morning arriving around 10:30 AM, our destination being a strip mall Starbucks adjacent to a larger mall northwest of Phoenix on W. Union Hills Drive near the 101 Freeway --- selected I was told because it was close to where Runyan lived. Runyan had already arrived, sitting at a table alone. Glancing out across the room as I walked in I didn't recognize her nor guess anybody to be her, but, since the boyfriend had met with her before he walked right up to her table.
Where I had stayed the night before there was a crime drama on TV in which the lead detective said a suspect's car was 30 years old. In my mind's eye I pictured something like a big black 1940s four-door Ford with big bulbous fenders and long running boards all along the sides. Instead, the suspect's car turned out to be a 1975 Chevy. A similar, albeit reverse misconception transpired when I first laid eyes on Runyan. While it is true years had passed since her heydays with Castaneda in the early 1960s I was actually set aback realizing she was now 84 years old.
My feeling was she wasn't at Starbucks alone, that someone brought her and whoever it was, was still there or lurking close by, although all the time we talked, which was a good part of the day, nobody came up to the table nor did she look at her watch or seem to make eye contact with anybody else in the room as though she knew them.
After introductions the boyfriend went to get iced teas all around leaving Runyan and I at the table alone for a brief time. I told her nothing of knowing Carlos Castaneda, only emphasizing having known Louis L'Amour, who she had been engaged to for a year and a half between her second marriage and her marriage to Castaneda, how L'Amour and I met and when I saw him last. I also told her I had met Clement Meighan, the person Castaneda's foremost acknowledgment went to in his first book. Just as I was to answer how Meighan and I met through a friend of my uncle, movie actress Rochelle Hudson, the boyfriend returned with the iced teas ending the conversation.
Runyan seemed to take me innocently enough from the very beginning and seemed most happy to discuss openly and freely her views on things relative to Castaneda with a graduate student so enthusiastically bent on writing a paper simply for a class. What cinched it though between the two of us, knowing she was versed in Buddhism and known at one time to be able to converse for hours on the subject, I told her I had studied under the noted Japanese Zen master Yasutani Hakuun Roshi, without favorable results I ensured her, as well as doing hard time in a Zen Monastery situated high up along the southern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau --- with a totally different set of results. With that she relaxed, seemingly as I looked at her, as though years flowed from her face, suddenly radiating a youthful ambience and giving off a striking demeanor totally undermining all of the years of her chronological age.
During the day or so period before going to see Runyan, without revealing any major connections to Castaneda, all the while trying to exhibit nothing more than a casual curiosity on my part, albeit spiking the drink, I briefed the boyfriend about a number of inconsistencies he never thought of found in Castaneda's early works that would be interesting to see how Runyan would resolve them. In the time that the two of us and Runyan talked, except for continuing interjections or questions on my part culled from things she had said --- or didn't say --- in her book during the regular flow of the conversation, the boyfriend did most of the work for me. When we got back to Tucson he dropped me off at his apartment along with his notes and took off to catch up with his girlfriend. That night, since I was crashing at his place sleeping on the floor, I had the opportunity to go over and over his notes. The next morning the ERV driver picked me up and we headed toward California and points north, never to see any of them, including the driver after I was left off, again.
What I came away with from our meeting was that Runyan did not see herself as an author, in the classical or otherwise. She was just a person caught up in events like most of us are, only in her case Carlos Castaneda was a major part of those events --- and because it was Carlos Castaneda she was caught up with, and there was so much disinformation about him she just wanted to set the record straight.
How she told it to me was that over the years she had been approached many times, some positively, some negatively, some for mere exploitation, to write a book on her association with Castaneda, some offers with pretty good up-front fees attached. Turning them all down, sometime in the early 1990s, using 8-1/2 x 14 lined yellow legal pads, she started writing stuff down as she remembered them, eventually numbering the pads as she went along 1, 2, 3, etc. As she was writing something in a higher number pad she would remember something that should have been in a lower number pad, say number 1, so she started a 1-B, 2-B, etc. After a year or two she had a whole stack of completely full pads, maybe 15 or 20, that only she could make any sense of, so she began seriously thinking she should start putting the information into actual book form. That was done by reading what she had written on the yellow pads out loud, in order, one-by-one, while somebody else typed it, then going over and over it until it sounded right.
The logistics of it all was all very interesting, but what I really wanted to know about was Clement Meighan. Meighan died in 1997. Runyan's book was published in 1996. In Runyan's case, as with almost everybody else who writes a book, there is usually a significant lead time between the time a person starts writing a book and when it gets published. Since her book was published in 1996, that would have put the main thrust of Runyan's lead time at the exact same time that Meighan and I had our face-to-face discussions. Because of those discussions, the 1960s Datura information would have been right on the forefront on Meighan's thoughts --- fully resolved and hacked out, where previously it had really never carried much weight. It is quite the coincidence that the discussions Meighan and I had eventually showed up so strongly in her book AND, since publication, so many people have run with it where previously the depth of the concept laid fallow. If Runyan contacted or interviewed Meighan regarding material prior to the publication of her book, for her book, I wanted to know.
Runyan told me she was living on the east coast with family members at the time she started her book and still did so when she seriously began devoting herself to it. At the same time Meighan had since retired and living clear across the country in Oregon. With money short, traveling and staying any length of time to conduct any sort of an interview was prohibitive so, in lieu of a face-to-face interview, she wrote him. Although during our discussion neither of us had the full and comprehensive quote below in it's entirety with us or quickly at our fingertips, the roommate, using his laptop, either searched down or had loaded on his computer The Informant and Carlos Castaneda, which according to archived sources had been online for public scrutiny easily since before April of 2004. After seeing the partial quotes used in context found in that paper, she was able to clarify for me in our discussion that the full paragraph below that she uses in quotes in her book is from Meighan personally and was something he had written himself in a several page response to her request for an interview:
"'His informant knew a great deal about Datura, which was a drug used in initiating ceremonies in some California groups, but had been presumed by me and I think most other anthropologists to have passed out of the picture forty or fifty years ago,' Meighan recalls. 'So he found an informant who still actively knew something about this and still had used it. He turned in a term paper which had alot of information in it that wouldn't have been possible to get, unless you had an informant who was knowledgeable about this plant and material. It was a very good paper and I encouraged him to continue his research. He reported the fact that there was still an Indian who knew about the use and practice of Datura as a power plant. A lot of this came about in his first book. He talked about the fact that it is very important what part the root comes from. There's alot of symbolism and fantasy about the male and the female plants and whether it is a deep root. I doubt whether any of that had any pharmacological value whatsoever, although he investigated that. He went around and talked to various people about their beliefs. But that business about Datura, so far as I know, wasn't published in literature anywhere. I read most of the California stuff very carefully and that's where the resistance comes in, when you start asking people about a whole set of beliefs and use of a drug, when you start dealing with ceremonial knowledge and stuff that's hard to get and not supposed to be revealed. I was very impressed with his paper. Obviously, he was getting information that anthropologists had not gotten before.'"
THE INFORMANT AND CARLOS CASTANEDA
NOTE: Although the above quote is found only in a partial form in THE INFORMANT AND CARLOS CASTANEDA, the original source in it's entirety, that is, it's full and complete form as presented above, is from Runyan's book A MAGICAL JOURNEY WITH CARLOS CASTANEDA as found in Chapter 14 Beginnings. As related in the paragraph just prior to the quote, Runyan, after seeing the partial quotes used in context as found in the Informant, she was able to clarify for me in our discussion the full paragraph as found in her book.
So, now I knew when and where her information came from ... Meighan himself ... and done so at the same time she was writing her book. As well, I felt much better recounting what she wrote in my works because of being a recent acquisition rather than remembered and presented as if verbatim from something she overheard thirty years before.
Notice the paragraph so presented as found in her book is in quotes, that is, she didn't just write it out of whole cloth, it is quoted from somewhere or someone. That someone is Meighan. Notice at the end of the first sentence she specifically states Meighan recalls. Meighan recalls ... not that she recalled it, or that Castaneda recalled it, or that somebody else recalled it, but that Meighan recalled it. She doesn't say he SAID it or TOLD her either. For her to know he recalled it and quote him she had to get the information from somewhere. That somewhere was his written response to her request. If you read carefully what is presented in the quote it is fairly casual, especially for a professor, or former professor as the case may have been. Notice the use of the word "stuff" several times in a sort of shortcut way to get across what he is relating to Runyan. There are run on sentences and the use of words using apostrophes and a few words later not using them. It is written that way and then quoted that same way by Runyan because when Meighan wrote it, it was being written as to a friend, not for publication in some scientific journal.
Over the years Runyan had taken a lot of heat for just being nothing else but the wife come ex-wife of Carlos Castaneda, especially so after her book came out. So, over time ... and possibly even learned from Castaneda himself ... she seemed to display a demeanor that I perceived as a tendency to hold her cards close to her vest. Although she was quite open regarding corresponding with Meighan up to a point she did so in such a fashion that she left you feeling unclear as to if it was a rather lengthy correspondence or a just onetime happenstance. She also hinted around, giving an air about but without directly saying it, that there was more than written correspondence between the two regarding all issues Castaneda.
DON JUAN MATUS
CASTANEDA AND DON JUAN MATUS
THE NOGALES BUS STATION MEETING
MAYA RUINS AND THE SPRING EQUINOX
A MAGICAL JOURNEY WITH CARLOS CASTANEDA
AS WRITTEN BYMARGARET RUNYAN CASTANEDA
TRAVELS IN THE YUCATAN
ASTEROIDS, SHAMANS, AND THE HIDDEN MAGIC OF MAYA TEMPLES
Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.
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ON THE RAZOR'S
As to the subject of donations, for those who may be so interested as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
When I first met Carlos Castandea I was a newly employed teenager just a few short months out of high school. Before our meeting little did either of us know we were on a collision course. He was ten years older and working on his AA degree at L.A. City College. I had gone to work for a seemingly innocuous little aerospace firm with a huge reputation about six or seven miles north along the coast from the little southern California beach community where I lived in a town called El Segundo. Having no signs of the beach communities like where I lived, El Segundo was bordered on the east inland by tons of major and minor aviation companies, wedged between on the Chevron Oil Company refinery on the south and the Los Angeles International Airport on the north. I had been hired as a trainee technical illustrator for an even smaller offshoot of the company that helped design and build the high altitude breathing equipment for the then super-secret U-2 spy plane --- which basically meant I got paid for my drawing ability.(see)
On Friday's after work, after I got to know a few people, like-minded fellow co-worker artist types similar to myself, would meet in some small out of the way place like the Iconoclast Coffee House on Wall Street in Redondo Beach or the Insomniac on Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach, and depending where we were, order some wine, beer or coffee and talk art, philosophy and politics late into the night just like artists and beat poets did, we thought, in the West Bank sidewalk cafes of Paris. Although fading in rep as the times moved on, the Insomniac was big to me, having started going there towards the end of my high school years and hearing Beat Poet Allen Ginsberg read "Howl," putting a sort of up there status among some of my newly gained peers.
A couple of miles from my job, just to the east beyond the aviation companies, was the Mattel Toy Company. Some of the people in the group knew some people at Mattel who also fancied themselves as artists and some of them joined us as well. One of the people that used to show up at those get togethers was Carlos Castaneda, who just happened to be working at Mattel at the time. Now, most people, especially those who know little or nothing about Castaneda's pre-Don Juan background, find themselves at a total loss as to why Castaneda would even bother to show up at our small, unprestigious, under-the-radar, and unheralded group of so-called artists. Over and over it comes up: Why would a person in their right mind, of such stature as Castaneda, entertain the possibility of participating in such a group of nobodies? The answer is quite simple. First, Carlos Castaneda was not the Carlos Castaneda he came to be after he met the mysterious and powerful Yaqui Indian shaman-sorcerer he came to call Don Juan Matus. Secondly and most importantly, in those pre-Don Juan days, Castaneda likened himself as an artist --- and truth be told, our group was openly receptive to artists that had not made it simply because none of us had. As for Castaneda being an artist, it is weaved throughout his early personal history and background. According to his own words, on Monday, July 24, 1961 in a conversation with Don Juan and published in Castaneda's third book Journey to Ixtlan (1972), Don Juan admonishes him for never assuming responsibility for his acts and Castaneda writes:
He (Don Juan) dared me to name an issue, an item in my life that had engaged all my thoughts. I said art. I had always wanted to be an artist and for years I had tried my hand at that. I still had the painful memory of my failure.
CARLOS CASTANEDA: BEFORE DON JUAN
Not knowing for sure if I would be good at doing anything relevant, I volunteered with the American Red Cross for hurricane duty. Since I had extensive training and hands on experience working with individuals with severe to profound disabilities, many that ingress the K-12 and higher educational system I was familiar with from group homes I figured I might come in handy working with that population. After receiving vaccinations and some minor training I was shoved out the door of my local Red Cross branch, pushed onto a plane and deployed into the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina's main path of destruction. Without any consideration as to my expertise I was put to work without even having been issued a Red Cross identification card or even receiving a Disaster Services credit card to cover expenses. Although it sounds makeshift or hard edged it was just that everybody and everything in the early stages were just overwhelmed with so much infrastructure destruction and numbers of people that needed assist. Initially I thought my services was being wasted, but In the end, on the one-on-one bottom level where I operated it all worked out considerably well as most if not all the volunteers seemed to seek their own level getting done what needed to be done.
During those early stages, not feeling possibly as productive as I could be, and even though the whole place was a zoo I tried to catch up with a friend of mine, Dr. George Demos, to see if I could be put to use or participate at a higher or wider level hoping to provide or blanket individuals with severe disabilities on a more specific need-be basis. Demos, who had been my English teacher in high school had gone on to become the Dean of Students of the university I attended. After serving 30 years in the active reserve on the side he retired as a Colonel and Commander of a U.S. Army Medical Brigade. From there he moved to the rank of Major General in the US Service Command, a disaster relief organization that helps in disasters worldwide, and was at the time doing Katrina stuff the same time I was with the Red Cross. Before anything could be finalized Rita hit and I was siphoned off, only now as an "old hand" with the two of us, Demos and I that is, never catching up hurricane-wise.
EARLY YEARS-----------------------LATER YEARS
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Throughout my growing up school years, Dr. George Demos, as a teacher in that cumulative educational process, probably made the greatest, most singular impact on me personally. By high school, education-wise, I was in a downhill trajectory, circulating around the wrong crowd, lack of initiative, no help at home, when Demos stepped in and turned it around by bypassing all the bullshit.
Seeing I was doing well if not outstanding in all the creative aspects of art but not doing so hot otherwise, especially so English of which he taught and I was one of his students, he formed a "team" with himself, me, the journalism teacher, who was in charge of the school newspaper, and my number one art teacher. Once combined into one package I used my creativity to write for the school paper escalating me into a higher realm of "ingroup status" and without me even realizing it, the constant need for editing and re-editing of my articles and columns forced me to fall into a correct English mode if I expected to be published.
Although as a sophomore I wasn't a fully vetted member of the journalism staff, by the end of the school year I had been recommended by the journalism teacher, Miss Sinsabaugh, to become a member of the Quill and Scroll International Honorary Society for High School Journalists to begin at the start of my junior year. By the time I had reached my senior year I'd received the Society's highest honor, the Gold Key Award, me, the looser that I was.
To write what I am writing now I went back and researched the criteria be eligible for induction into the Quill and Scroll. Students are required to meet the following five requirements to be accepted:
- They must be of junior or senior classification. Second semester sophomores may be initiated during the last grading period of their sophomore year. Their membership will become effective at the beginning of their junior year.
- They must be in the upper third of their class in general scholastic standing, either for the year of their election or for the cumulative total of all high school work.
- They must have done superior work in some phase of journalism or school publications work. They may be staffers of a magazine, newspaper, yearbook, news bureau or radio/television station.
- They must be recommended by the supervisor or by the committee governing publications.
- They must be approved by the Society's Executive Director.
ADDITIONAL INSIGHTS REGARDING GEORGE DEMOS:
Demos enlisted into the U.S. Army at age 17 just as WWII was winding down and assigned to the 187 Regimental Combat Team 11th Airborne Division. The division was preparing to parachute into Japan when the war ended. He spent 2 years in the occupation forces in Sapporo, Hakkaido, Japan.
He continued to serve in the active reserve for 30 years retiring as a Colonel and Commander of a Medical Brigade. He holds the earned rank of Major General in the US Service Command, a disaster relief organization that helps in disasters worldwide, having gone into Thailand to help with the aftereffects of the tsunami as well as to Houston Texas to assist with Hurricane Katrina. Demos is also President and CEO of the PTSD clinics that help US veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
For the record, the soldiers of the 187th Regimental Combat Team 11th Airborne Division, of which Demos was a part, were the first foreign troops to enter Japan in 2,000 years.
THE WANDERLING AND HIS HIGH SCHOOL CHUMS
LEARNING FROM HURRICANE KATRINA
THE 187th (AIRBORNE)
After having volunteered with the American Red Cross and being deployed for weeks-and-weeks-and-weeks working four hurricanes (Katrina, Rita, Gustav, and Ike), because of an innate longing for a distinct separation immersed in total quietude mixed in with a certain longing for a long lost Terry and the Pirates milieu of the Asian atmosphere --- without concern by or for others with my support system --- I did just that, returned after thirty years plus to re-participate in and complete a 12 weeks meditation regimen I was unable to finish.
In Rangoon, Burma, now called Yangon, Myanmar, there is a place called the Mahasi Meditation Center, a rather large complex squeezed neatly into twenty acre compound exclusively for the participating in and for the learning of Vipassana Meditation, the same meditation method developed, used, and taught by the Buddha in ancient times. Those who seek admission to the center undergo full-time meditation regimen for six to twelve weeks which is considered an appropriate period of retreat for one to gain a basic knowledge and experience into Vipassana meditation.
Years ago as a young lad in my twenties I had attended meditation sessions at the center, but because of a series of mitigating circumstances beyond my control as found in the Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery link below and unrelated to the meditation center itself, I was unable to reach completion of the full 12 week meditation regimen as offered by the center.
A few days before I was to complete my 12 weeks, and for all practical purposes, on a countdown in hours to depart, one of the monks, in a highly unusual set of circumstances, came to me and said an American woman had arrived at the office requesting to see me. In that only a very small cadre of people actually knew where I was and what I was doing, thinking someone seeking me must have some importance behind it, I agreed to go back with the monk. When I got to the administrative area the woman was gone, leaving only a $100 dollar Desert Inn poker chip to be given to me. The poker chip led straight to Chiang Mai and the jungles of Thailand. See:
The following quote is from the above Phyllis Davis site and refers to Phyllis specifically and is highly applicable, at least in a secondarily sort of way, in seeking me out:
"She knew that for Hurricane Rita with the Red Cross I had been deployed to and helped reopen a previously evacuated Katrina shelter in Deweyville, Texas and from there had gone down to her birth-town, the then completely evacuated city of Port Arthur and nearby Nederland where she grew up searching for stragglers and fuel. If I interacted with any of her family members or friends is not known, but she always liked the way I had gone down into the Port Arthur, Nederland area to lend help in such a devastated area."
Amazingly enough, as far as the Mahasi Meditation Center is concerned, at least for those who may be so interested, for foreign meditators, the entire period of their stay for study-practice at the center --- six to twelve weeks --- is FREE, including both full boarding and lodging. (see)
For almost anything else you would ever want to know regarding staying at the Mahasi Meditation Center, etc., please refer to the center's frequently asked questions section by clicking HERE and HERE.
DOING HARD TIME IN A ZEN MONASTERY
In April of 1998, before the existence or content of Castaneda's 1960 Paper on Datura became widely known, Castaneda died. Any knowledge thereof came about mostly through Runyan's book. Until that time the contents and subject matter, or even that he wrote such a paper, was not very high up on anyone's radar. Even those who were making a full time living shredding every thought and word of Castaneda were not lambasting him with his paper.
Meighan retired in 1991 and died in 1997. Runyan's book did not come out until the very end of the year, 1996. Well before then, and especially through his retirement years, Meighan had tired of all the probing and questions regarding Castaneda and made it a point to avoid being sucked in by the constant bombardment of questions by using canned responses or making himself largely unavailable for comment anytime the topic came up. He did, however, make himself available to me primarily for two main reasons, reasons I get into more thoroughly in the 1960 Paper on Datura, linked above. Briefly however, through me and our initial contact introduction he discovered that the person who turned out to be the informant in The Informant and Carlos Castaneda Meighan knew very well and had very fond memories of from the past. Secondly, it was from that knowledge of the informant, my Uncle, that I was able to breach the subject of two almost exact parallel near death experiences, one Meighan's and one mine, that in turn opened up the doors for ME to become a confidant.
FREE ONLINE PDF VERSION
If the link remains active, and it has for several years, below is a sort of odd link to a completely free PDF online version of Margaret Runyan Castaneda's book A Magical Journey With Carlos Castaneda. If you search PDF versions of her book on the internet they invariably lead to any number of costs, sign ups, or gotcha-links. The one below actually just has her full 222 page book available for your reading pleasure. However, you have to by-pass the all the ads and download requests --- of which you DON'T have to do --- download anything, that is. Simply go to the side scroll and scroll down a short way to the title page then must move the pages forward as you read. As far as I have been able to determine, that's it.
A MAGICAL JOURNEY WITH CARLOS CASTANEDA
SCENE FROM THE ORIGINAL TERRY AND THE PIRATES AS DRAWN BY MILTON CANIFF DATED JANUARY 27, 1935.
At the end of the summer of 1953, just as I was about to start the 10th grade or so, the August - September #6 issue of the comic book Mad came out. Inside #6 was a story, drawn by my all time favorite non-animator cartoonist Wallace Wood, that spoofed or satired big-time the long running comic strip Terry and the Pirates, with Wood in his spoofing, calling it Teddy and the Pirates.
Although I had followed Terry and the Pirates a good portion of my life, and knew how Milton Caniff, the artist-cartoonist of the strip, presented Terry's world that he and his so-called Pirates lived in, Wood's top-half opening drawing below, showing his version of an underbelly far east like milieu, real or not, that exemplified the Asian atmosphere along with the rest of the story hit me like a hammer, with me, the teenager that I was, sucking up his version as my version and as my version, the real version. Ten years later, thanks to Uncle Sam and his friendly Selective Service, found me in Rangoon, Saigon, and Chiang Mai, as well as other such places, even meeting warlords. Those ten years after high school, especially in and where I traveled, having gone from a teenager to an almost mid-twenties GI, my vision not only didn't wane, but was bolstered and grew. Notice the tommy guns, stabbings, hand grenades and exotic women. So too in the second panel, i.e., lower left hand corner, the two crashed P-40 Flying Tigers.
WANDERLING AND THE PIRATES
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