Apocalypse Culture
edited by Adam Parfrey
revised and expanded edition
Feral House, 1990.
pp 152-158

Mel Lyman:
God's Own Story

Laura Whitcomb
Material Compiled by John Aes-Nihil

 
Overpopulated and over-proselytized, the Victorian tenements which housed the love generation's oscillating anthills began to erode as quickly as the illusion did.

The pavements echoed with love's demise. The discarded remains of "youthquake" were now street-smart hustlers. Those left behind that summer's exodus could only anesthetizing themselves from the impending San Francisco cold and especially, the confusion at hand.

The whitewashing euphoria of acid left behind faces that were convoluted, void of expression. All that remained was paranoia, phobia and frustration. Hate would become the last turned-on revelation. A locally distributed paper, Avatar, published under the inscription, "TO ALL WHO WOULD KNOW":

The Oracle continues to recruit for this summer's Human Shit In. Kids are starving on the street. Minds and bodies are being maimed as we watch a scale model of Vietnam.
Now someone had to have an answer. The remnants of those evaporated souls awaited remedy by a savior. That autumn, saviors appeared to supply the demand: pimps, pushers, scientologists, yang, yin, zen. Scruffy, penny-dreadful Jesuses. The Process Church of the Final Judgment. The Two. The Order of Melchezidek. Charlie's Angels, who claimed, "In love there is no wrong." Anyone who posed an answer to a perennial question was God-for-a-day.

Avatar's "To All Who Would Know" column introduced its founder and doyen, Mel Lyman. "I am the truth and I speak the truth," proclaimed Mel. "In all humility I tell you that I am the greatest man in the world and it does not trouble me in the least. I am going to attack everything you believe in, everything you cling to. I am going to shed light on your dark truths."

The column proceeded to attack the fundamental belief of the Aquarian Age, that of Universal Love: "Love doesn't exist only in rare fleeting moments."

Love is something you BECOME after there is no more YOU ... through complete sacrifice of the personality ... giving up everything you want for yourself. All these weaklings who cling to God for support are just putting off their own crucifixions. And you must die to be reborn.
In this manner Mel Lyman presciently put his imprimatur on the apocalyptic mindfuck, regeneration for the price of self-sacrifice. Manson called it "losing the ego" or "cease to exist." Baptists translate it as being reborn. Either way, breaking oneself down to be built up again wasn't hard for the lost souls of Hate and Ashburied. They were already broken.

Mel, one of the early scene-stealers at Tim Leary's Newton center, had collected a following of footloose beatniks and passersby who were engrossed by his demiurgic simplicity. It was here that Bruce Conner had given him the idea to be a modern day self-proclaiming God. Mel readily took on the role, and to a degree, had convinced himself.

He began playing harmonica for Jim Kweskin's Jug band, and secured himself as a living legend at the Newport Folk Festival when he deliberated a 30-minute solo performance of "Rock of Ages." This stadium-clearing exhibition was, explained Mel, a request from God Himself.

God had collected around him a Family, and recruited more as he proposed his idea for a communal housing site in the middle of Boston's black ghetto, Roxbury. The site was called Fort Hill. Mel, as most gods do, served as head of household.

Mel began to seduce the nation's underground press with his ordinariness. There was something strange though remarkably apt about the guy next door making a galactic claim. When a subscriber to Avatar wrote in professing his adamant faith in the mission of Mel, the reply would be:

Wouldn't be so hard for you to take, imagine how I feel. Betcha never thought it would happen like this did ya? No turning water to wine and raising the dead this trip, just gonna tell it like it is.
Mel's prosaic jargon would be dismissed by the vulgar as dull. Those who had their minds blown and expanded would find the prose all-encompassing.
Mel Ritual:
Disciple: But What Am I
Master: You Are A Question
Disciple: Then What Are You
Master: I Am An Answer
Mel's answers emanated from the deathbeat of cheesy Americana. Mel's scatologic obsessions, homophobic unease, and worminess in his love affairs made this man quite the perfect garden variety God in a materialist world turned upside-down. Mel's art was to share a piece of everyone's inner torment and isolation. His personal became their universal.

He began to loathe hippiedom, of whose foundation he was part of. "You're all too full of dope and pride to know what's good for you anymore. Tim Leary's backing out on the generation he turned on. Your slogans are empty."

Mel passing through Los Angeles wrote: "I'm sapped. This city drains me and has no way of restoring my depths. Modern-day Sodom, the epitome of decadence."

His obsession with the components and mobilization of fecal material was expressed from a Bowery loft in late October of 1964:

It seems a little inconsiderate on the part of our Creator that we were designed as to have to provide for anal clearance in such a beastly fashion. It would be so much more convenient if he had provided a separate receptacle somewhere within the seemingly useless vast buttock area and joining the lower colon by means of a trap door whereby all turds, attempting to pass over and await their disposal somewhere in closer proximity to the blessed orifice, would slip helplessly into, and there await their grand "bombs away" en masse at the simple press of an appropriately concealed button, thereby leaving the lower intestinal tract free at all times to allow passageway of whatever wanted to pass away, but alas it is not so and thus do I annoyingly always find myself obligated to keep the passageway clear through my own determined efforts. And thus did I incur the wound I previously intended to relate. I applied just a little too much in excess of the normal safety margin of proper pressure endeavoring to squeeze out the last little brown drop and 'rip.' I believe I've ruptured my lower intestinal lining, possibly even to the point of initiating the protrusion of the delicate lining out through the outer walls of the natural cavity and good heavens, if this be so I may even at this very moment be internally filling up with shit!
Lyman's response to a young man's fear of his own homosexuality was addressed to the boy who called himself "King Fag": "Fag feelings are like this. They do not come from the true person. They are not a part of the center felt subject which feels itself as 'I.'"

No one was entirely sure where Mel Lyman had come from. But one thing was certain: he was more worldly than he seemed. Mel would explain he was not of this world. His purpose was explained in one of his two books, Autobiography of a World Savior. He was ordained by his superiors to carry out a mission on planet earth. It was "necessary to put forth a special effort to redeem the planet as it had grown so accustomed to existing at this lower vibration."

He was transported to Earth where a body was being prepared for Mel to "inhabit." Finding humans a "vulgar sort," Mel's childhood was spent travelling back and forth between our world and the milky way "playing interplanetary hooky."

Then his superiors ordered him to stay put until his task was achieved. In 1972, Rolling Stone magazine published a two-part front cover series on this missionary. The article was entitled "Mel Lyman and the Holy Siege of America." Rolling Stone's publishing arm brought out the book Mindfuckers, further exposing Mel as a vicious dictator whose aim was total control of the American underground. Writer David Felton accused Mel of trying to take over radio stations by force, and wreaking similar tactics on publishing firms, magazines, and newspapers.

Mindfuckers and the Rolling Stone articles raked the muck over a comment made by Jim Kweskin: "The only difference between us [Lyman Family] and the Manson Family is that we don't go around preaching peace and love and we haven't killed anyone, yet." Kweskin's apparently humorous comment betrayed a preoccupation with the Manson clan. Charlie's picture hung in the Fort Hill study room and for some time Squeaky Fromme visited and even stayed for short lengths of time at the Lyman Los Angeles home. For a brief time, Charlie and Mel corresponded with each other.

Mel and Charlie's doctrines for spiritual betterment mirrored one another, even though disguised under the allegory of Cain and Abel. Both Families were prepared to carry out violent and coercive maneuvers to get their leaders' word out.

The Lyman Family implemented an armed defense as heated arguments arose with Fort Hill's neighboring black ghetto, and Manson was, of course, imprisoned partially on the grounds that he was attempting to catalyze a race war.

The true Manson/Lyman parallel was revealed in their gnostic pairing of good and evil. Everyone was God and the Devil, for together Satan and Christ inhabit everyone. Like Christ and Satan, Mel and Charlie were both metaphorically crucified and sent to hell.

Mel once said, "Anything that isn't created out of the depths of loneliness is not a creation, only a production, and has no soul to sustain it." A letter to the editor in the May, 1969 Avatar:

Dear Mel,

I am surprised to find myself so relieved and delighted that you have declared yourself Christ — though I knew it was coming I did not realize how much I needed it. When you declared yourself World Savior, that makes me realize how much you have opened yourself to me, and committed yourself to my salvation.

Three years later Mel disappeared. The Lyman family shut their doors and denied their existence to the prying, inquiring world. They would later claim their leader was dead, though a body or death certificate was never certifiably produced. God was dead, and that was all that mattered.
Most people who claim to be waiting for the second coming are actually perverts who are just waiting for a chance to get on the second crucifixion. Some of them are already bargaining for the television rights lest they get caught with their pants down by an unknown contender making a surprise bid for the number one spot. What they fail to realize is that the twentieth-century savior is going to outfox them all by, yes, he's going to crucify himself, thus getting a jump on his competitors. Not only that, but his loyal followers will be standing there beside him, not just gawking or taking notes, but yes, sports lovers, actually crucifying themselves right along with their leader. And they stand, eyes wild. It's hard to see because the light is getting so bright, but it seems that each one of these men and women is armed with a golden hammer and a handful of plutonium spikes. They're standing in a circle around a tower, on the breast of a hill in the midst of a slum, and they're actually nailing themselves to the ground, fellow Americans, and some of them are nailing each other to the ground — let's have a slow motion replay of that last bit of action — wonderful — and now it appears that these people are actually driving these spikes in rhythm and singing some sort of spiritual or work song! — word just in from our computers indicates that the language they're singing in has never been spoken on Earth before — perhaps that's why they're singing it instead — ha ha — and ladies and gentlemen, the modern messiah has just announced that as soon as he's sure these spikes have been driven deeply enough, he and his disciples will rise, that's right, folks, they're going to ascend into the heavens, and since they're so, well, attached to the earth, they're going to drag it along behind them! Wow! Sounds like they've got their work cut out for them, eh? Lucky you can just sit in your armchair and wait for it to come on tv! They seem to be nearly ready for the Big Drag now ... hard to tell what's actually happening from down here, though, what with all the blood and thunder and fire and screaming — maybe I'll just step up the hill here a bit, and get a closer look ... might be a little risky, but it's my job to get the truth, before it gets me. I'm going to try to interview this young lady here, to get the feminine angle, but first, a word from our sponsor:
FRIENDS, HAVE YOU REREAD YOUR AVATARS?
Mel Lyman