Guide The Prankster and the Conspiracy

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  2. Kerry Thornley: Discordian, Prankster, Lee Harvey Oswald writer
  3. Pranksters

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  4. About This Item We aim to show you accurate product information. Manufacturers, suppliers and others provide what you see here, and we have not verified it. See our disclaimer. One of the s counterculture's most fascinating characters was Kerry Wendell Thornley -- a writer, philosopher, Zen dishwasher, enlightened prankster, and, possibly, an Oswald double with disturbing ties to the Kennedy assassination. Other adventures included pre-dawn automotive quests into Friendly Hills in search of the fabled gypsy camps Kerry had told his brothers about.

    To this day, Dick Thornley has no idea whether his big brother was just putting them on about these hidden camps, or not.


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    They never did find any gypsies. Yet Kerry provided more than just mere entertainment for his younger brothers. As Dick recalled to this author in Our family was quite dysfunctional.

    The Offspring - Original Prankster

    Dad was an alcoholic. He never physically hurt us, but he was unbearably embarrassing to be around, at times. Mom was too afraid of being on her own to leave Dad. Yet, she frequently talked about it. This made for a very neurotic situation for us. Kerry was a surrogate father figure to me for years.

    He was the person in the family who was most supportive of all my childish ideas. There were times in my life that I was lost, but without Kerry things would have been much, much worse for me. In many respects—just a normal lad growing up in s America—Kerry engaged in such typical activities as building model cars and airplanes, and flying box kites. Although he was never much one for sports or games, Kerry did, however, own one of the first Frisbees in existence, then called a Flying Saucer, which he got at the Pomona County Fair.

    And, like many other young boys, he dreamed of one day becoming a world-traveling adventurer. At California High School CalHi in East Whittier, Kerry made the acquaintance of Greg Hill, whom he once described in the following manner: Elfin blue eyes combine with his squat physique to give him a Pan-like appearance of a creature from Greek mythology. Conversely, Kerry was shaped not unlike a matchstick, with a pair of the skinniest legs known to man. And whereas Kerry was an expansive and highly energized kid, Greg was more introverted. Just the same, he and Kerry possessed similar odd interests, including a fondness for crackpots, which led to some of their first outings together to meetings of a flying saucer cult in El Monte called Understanding.

    As Greg later recalled: Through our mutual general interest in wondering just what was going on out there in that gigantic world, and our many common specific interests in Humanism, anti-religionism, an enjoyment for Omar Khayyam, a curiosity for the bizarre like black magic and hypnotism, plus our common warped sense of humor, we formed a close friendship. Another high school chum was Bill Stephens, who hung out with both Kerry and mutual pal, Bob Newport. Bill also met Kerry at CalHi, when the two debated in a speech contest. After Bill thanked him, and gloated a bit, Greg added: "Yes, I could have heard it even if I was out standing in the hall.

    While attending CalHi, Kerry won a number of public-speaking competitions, and became an accomplished public speaker, a skill which he continued to hone after high school. In time, Bill and Kerry grew quite close, although they rarely agreed on much, if anything. Dick Thornley remembers going to see Kerry in Jenny Kissed Me , and one scene in particular with Kerry sitting in a living room with two girls. Kerry later joked that this bit of dialogue sounded a lot like him in real life.

    No one disagreed. Another CalHi friend, Sylvia Bortin, recalled a prank that occurred in drama class. Apparently the perpetrators—Kerry, Greg, and other unnamed cohorts—made a recording of what, at first, appeared to be a regular radio program, with music playing innocently from a radio positioned on the apron of the stage. In actuality, the sounds were projected from a reel-to-reel tape machine hidden backstage.

    Inserted into the seemingly mundane radio program, the pranksters had planted a series of interruptions, made by a newscaster, to the effect that Soviet planes were invading the U. What made me feel bad was that one of the boys in the class was so scared that he was praying.

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    Oddballs though they may have been, Kerry and his cohorts— Newport, Stephens, and Hill—engaged in such normal and expected activities for youth their age, such as cruising Whittier Boulevard, and trying to be cool, which was quite a stretch for these nerdy young lads with ideas as weird and plentiful as their acne. It was Kerry who first introduced Bill Stephens to the powerful poetic works of William Blake, and the philosophy of experiencing everything to excess. Kerry did everything to excess, Bill observed. Stephens remembers Kerry as an intense character who put a shade to everything that was really extreme….

    Kerry would immerse himself in whatever it was Kerry was interested in.

    Kerry Thornley: Discordian, Prankster, Lee Harvey Oswald writer

    Kerry, in fact, was the first person to whom Bill revealed his sexual orientation, and on one occasion Bill even tried to seduce Kerry, although Kerry turned down his advances. When asked how Kerry responded to the disclosure of his homosexuality, Stephens replied: As a good friend would: very tolerant. In the 50s, that was quite the exception. Around this time, Kerry—as Bill Stephens recalled—became bound and determined to lose his cherry. After getting appropriately drunk, the two visited a Tijuana brothel, where Kerry lost his virginity. After attending boot camp that summer, he returned to high school for his senior year.

    Kerry graduated from CalHi in , and in attended the University of Southern California to study journalism. Kerry pledged for Delta Sigma Phi, and—as is expected of all pledges—went through the hazing ritual known as hell week. At the time, Delta Sigma Phi members allowed a black student to pledge, and took him all the way through hell week.

    Then, after making it through this humiliation, the fraternity laughingly refused to let the black student join because of his race. Kerry decided he wanted nothing further to do with fraternities, and this episode probably turned him off of college altogether. Thereafter Kerry set about educating himself—as he later recalled—by reading the classics, traveling, and writing.

    Pranksters

    In the spring of , Kerry—a Marine Corps Reservist—decided to fulfill his two-year active duty and enlisted. Comparatively speaking, MACS-9 was a small organization located outside the main sphere of base activities, which afforded the enlisted men the opportunity to get to know one another on a more personal level than in other units. It was in this atmosphere that Kerry and Oswald struck up an acquaintance due to a mutual interest in communist theory and the writings of Karl Marx.

    Later, Kerry would describe Oswald as the outfit eight ball, earning this dubious distinction by openly subscribing to communist newspapers such as Pravda , and cracking jokes with an exaggerated Russian accent, answering questions with da or nyet and referring to his fellow Marines as comrades. It was common knowledge that Oswald was studying Russian, and was fairly fluent in conversational Russian.