By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
And then Stubby drops a bombshell of his own: "Unbeknownst to me, Timothy Leary worked for the CIA. He came to infiltrate our gang."
If anyone would know the Brotherhood's inner dealings, it'd be Stubby. Although many claim the Brotherhood originated in 1965 with John Griggs and his Anaheim-based gang the Street Sweepers, Stubby says his branch of the family originated two years earlier, in Newport Beach. In 1963, Stubby began hanging out with a bunch of surfers known as the 15th Street Gang, in a house called the Animal Farm.
"We were the potheads in town," he says. "We were longhaired kids. The cops got on our case as a public nuisance." One of those cops was Neil Purcell, who then worked for the Newport Beach Police Department and who would go on to lead the charge against Leary and the Brotherhood. With a push from Purcell, Stubby and his friends moved down to Laguna Beach in about 1966.
"We called ourselves the Tribe of the Rising Sun," he says, displaying a medallion that depicts a flaming orb of sunlight. "We merged with the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. The cheapest rents were in the canyon. So we rented two houses on Victory Walk. We dealt drugs out of one house and lived in another. I had seven houses at one point because when one house got hot I had to rent another. Johnny Griggs and Leary lived next door on Roosevelt Lane. This was right after we opened Mystic Arts World, which is how we got to be known around the world. We used to go into the back room and smoke out."
Much more than simply a group of people interested in puffing joints or dropping acid, Stubby insists, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love was a family of people seeking spiritual enlightenment. "We were totally spiritual, religious people," he says. "Acid and marijuana were sacraments to us. We were so upset about Vietnam. We were like soldiers. We brought Timothy Leary to us to approach famous people like Crosby, Stills & Nash, the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane—all the San Francisco bands—so we'd have control of the music. We really had power."
Part of that power was the Brotherhood's trademark orange acid. "Orange Sunshine was the purest form of LSD," he says. "But we made it a little too stony"—that is, too powerful. Tierney and his friends would manufacture hundreds of doses at a time by taking a piece of plywood, drilling holes halfway into it, then rubbing the acid paste into the plywood to dry. "We did it right in the canyon," he says. "We distributed Sunshine for 10 cents a dose. There was nothing in the world that would get you high for 12 hours for just 10 cents. If a person wanted a bunch of doses, the price went down to 5 cents and I'd give them a case of Leary's Psychedelic Prayers.We always distributed the money we made so everybody could have a house. We weren't greedy. We just wanted people to get high."
Stubby says he and John Gale would play football each New Year at Laguna Beach High School. The losing team brought a kilo of pot to the after-party. They also took turns showing up at Grateful Dead concerts, passing out free doses of Orange Sunshine. Gale would usually dress in an orange jump suit. They also inserted their spirituality into the surf industry. With financial support from Stubby, Gale founded Rainbow Surfboards, around the time the Brotherhood made "Rainbow Bridge," a 1970 Hendrix film in Hawaii. Stubby still has outtakes of the film where Brothers open up a surfboard to reveal stashes of pot hidden in the tail fin. Rainbow boards featured Buddhist mandalas, dolphins, religious symbols and "things you could reflect on," Stubby says. "We had the widest boards and the most unique designs," including one based on the dimensions of an 87-foot boat the Brotherhood owned.
The company still survives, under new management whose website echoes its genesis: "A legend reborn! Rainbow Surfboards was founded by Johnny Gale in 1969 in Laguna Beach, California. The late 1960s and early 1970s were a time of mind expansion, new music and pure cosmic surf soul."
But music, meditation and surfing became secondary to drug smuggling. Stubby had friends in Mexico who provided the Brotherhood with tons of cheap pot smuggled on the bodies of people who simply walked across the border. Soon, he and other Brothers were transporting marijuana and hash from all over the world.
"Everybody started traveling and getting involved in it," Stubby says. Serendipity bred instant smuggling routes. "You'd be somewhere halfway around the world and bump into a Brother and they would take it from there. It was like the Lord put it there for us."
The favorite source of cheap, highly potent pot was Afghanistan. From there, the Brotherhood would transport it to Germany. "Then we'd buy a Porsche, ship it to Canada and then drive it across the border."
The police were always one step behind them, even after Officer Purcell moved from Newport to Laguna, seemingly bent on busting the Brotherhood. At night, cops would stalk through Laguna Canyon with parabolic antennas aimed at windows, attempting to pick up coughing sounds or drug-related conversations. Stubby heard rumors that the police thought the Brotherhood employed a pack of guard dogs capable of sniffing gunpowder to protect their stashes and used to impound any stray dog they came across. Sure, the Brotherhood had dogs, Stubby says, but they didn't know gunpowder from dog food. In reality, Stubby says, he had a brother-in-law who happened to be a federal drug agent based in Tustin. "He would call up and say they were going to do a bust on Tuesday or Wednesday," he says. "So I was being warned."