The Return to Rome

The Return to Rome
by Paul Morantz
(c) October 2011

On July 9, l975 Dederich announced he felt that for several months been “riding on the crest of the surf somewhere.” He had visited Badger, Ca. to have some fun and “we found ourselves dead smack in the middle of what very likely could be the most fantastic and spectacular recreation and vacation land in the whole world.” He decided that Badger would be the new Home Place (where Dederich lived).

So that month July Home Place moved to a new Synanon 360 acre compound located 41.2 miles south of Badger, Ca. on Dry Creek Road and about an hour drive east of Fresno, set in the foothills of the spectacular Sierra Nevada mountains, Tulare County, city of Visalia; Dederich now escaping the larger community in Tomales to locate again in a new environment he could declare the greatest on earth. The city, settled in 1852, as a gate way to the Sequoias, is situated in Central California, a key part of the agricultural San Joaquin Valley. It was approximately 230 miles southeast of San Francisco. Ultimately important would be that it was 190 miles north of Los Angeles, and three years later a Synanon vehicle was found to have put on in a single trip mileage equal to a round trip to Los Angeles over just a few days. Even more important, but no one other than herpetologists was likely to know, Badger had its own distinct species of rattlesnakes, found nowhere else, and identified by an extra band before its rattles.

On August 4 they installed a neon light “Synanon Home Place…The Fully Conscious Community.” On August 7 they started making it a place to come to rest, to recreate. One was to get reservations. It was the tip of the arrow. People would have better food, live better. Dederich wanted people to be generalists rather than specialists– Swing a hammer, ride a bike, keep books, ski in winter.

“That’s why I am in this business,” he said. “that’s the way I get mine and I’m a very selfish person. I want to get all of it.”
He said all the material involved would be upgraded. Only the best cars and motorcycles would be in Badger. The committee will strive for excellence: “There is no need to go slamming around and we don’t have to be in a hurry– bikes, trucks and cars are for the use of everybody”. Its sidewalks and pass were to be built. Shelters would be built to protect cars from the sun and they would buld a circular soap spa, a fishing spot with some Bass and “all that monkey business.” He wanted to have year-round swimming. The single most important tangible thing would be the quality of the food. There would be beautifully planned three-hour dinners with a number of courses.

He wanted short working hours, preferred laboring the morning, by lunch everyone will be left to fun and games. He wanted art objects, pictures and furniture. He planned to get sculpturer Ted Lukjanczyk down and under his tutelage to turn others into fantastic artists.

It was all a long ways from Ocean Park when they begged stale food from catering trucks and ran a hose through a window for a shower.

And plenty of games, long and short games, the breakfast game, dinner game, the student game, dissipation, the reach, the interchange. A few months ago they had an eight brothers’ game. Chuck talked about having a game with wives and ex-husbands.

A beautiful waterfall was planned for the where the dam is. First they had to fix the dam and plug the holes. Next to it was a building with a fireplace. He said they would have fun sitting around tubs with each other like various other civilizations just before “they decayed.” At Synanon one will not shit where one takes a bath. He said the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations would die laughing if they saw an American home where there was a big pot for turds next to where they were supposed to bathe.

Dederich was aware there would be those who would say this was not the proper use of charitable funds. He told his flock, “so, the probable of course is getting away with all this without getting arrested. I never feel will comfortable in less I’m in danger of being arrested. Otherwise the lawyers get soft.”

The best people will have jobs in Badger, the Old man said. “They have to be able to produce fun for everyone. The Badger committee was an effort to “break away from the larger Synanon community exactly as original Synanon community was an effort to break away the Santa Monica community. This culture was the process for breaking away from the Synanon culture as it exists. The only purpose that the Synanon culture has now, just like the larger society eighteen years ago did, is to provide, “in this order, people and money. That’s the only thing we want. We do not want any other culture here that we don’t examine. We do want any old ideas.”

And in Badger, the Founder declared, “we do not permit here, under any circumstances, any kind of negativity or sour looks of formidably outside a Synanon game. If you have those problems, you can keep them to yourselves — if you can. If you can’t, out! Out!…We don’t want get to cure dope fiends. ” Nor was it a place for lifestylers who pay only percentages of their outside income.

Dederich talked about himself being on the front lines: “Anybody who does what I do anywhere in the world — – anyone — – is of course protected. The first thing an Army does is set up a wall around the general. Always! It has to be done.”

He talked about those who perform great services should in turn to be more served. Women do the laundry, but Dederich also wanted the feminine mystique brought back. The Synanon purpose is to demonstrate how deliver gracious dining and leisure. Everyone will do the best for the service of everyone else.”

Before gracious living they would take naps after work to prepare for it. Some days they did not work art all, less dishes pile up while more paper plates were used. In September of 1975 the foundation food came under direction of Kenneth Blair.

Dederich proclaimed in support of gracious dining “American plan is to take the result of four or five hours of dedication on the part of good cooks and kitchen help, and destroy it in about twelve minutes and fall off the chair and belch…That’s what they do. Everyone here sits down, looks great and clean, embarking on a party– A real nice gracious party. In hour and a half goes by and nothing happens. Fifteen minutes more goes by and nothing happens. They’re still yakking and yakking and having a circus. At five minutes after nine, somebody gets up and starts to bumble around. Three or four more people get up. Fifteen minutes more goes by and half the gang is still arguing, yelling, having fun and so on. In eight weeks we opened up a whole area of the business of living which most other people in this room never suspected existed at all. You see? In eight weeks. And we did it by going through some motions. I made you go through the motions. You and the rest of the people in Synanon have endowed me with the power to do this. I govern with the consent of the governed, like any other governor. You have appointed me to do this do you as much as you might hate it.”

Dederich often quoted Mohammed : “There go my people, I must hurry and follow them, because I am their leader. So I drive you ahead of me like a bunch of cattle…with great confidence you can’t be hurt. Look around you. The payoff is fantastic. So that’s what we’re doing.

“The main purpose of Synanon is to finance what we’re doing. The rest of the people of Synanon are producing people, money, skills and everything for our use. We must grow fast enough so that we do not become suicidal; they must build resources to be able to take a total payoff as a community, a Sabbath.”

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The Chairman office was now “The Chair.” Those from his office were representatives of the chair and when they visited other plants they were role models. They were the highest paid, living on the fat of land. A Chairman Office was set up in each community and kept contact with CED in the new HP, which was also called Throne, Crown, White House, Vatican and Royal Family. Dede now ran Synanon’s facility at Tomales.

In September. 1975 Synanon set up a small-scale residential facility near the North Hill Side, Chicago, as a showcase for supporters area– 11352 N. La Salle. Ted Dibble said purpose was to recruit juvenile delinquents to California facilities. He brought five teen-agers to Synanon over a year to conduct interviews.

Chuck Dederich also let it be known he was considering a ban on pregnancies at Synanon: “We haven’t told anybody they can’t…I’ve just planted the notion. I don’t believe that celibacy itself would produce anything we want at this time, but I can see some good coming out of childlessness. Maybe only a selected few, an elite corps, should have babies. I don’t know yet what is best for our burgeoning causes.”

Dederich’s concern over something as cosmic as overpopulation indicates how far Synanon had come from its humble beginnings. The storefront operation he started in Santa Monica in 1958 to rehabilitate drug addicts had grown into an empire with assets of $32 million and 1,300 subjects. They were deployed now in three California facilities—Santa Monica, Tomales and Badger—with 300 land vehicles, 10 planes and a 5,000-foot embryo airport in Visalia. Every year companies still donated products to the Synanon Foundation by the carload: beef, shoes, furniture, clothing and building materials. “Our tax-exempt privilege gives us the right, really, to hustle goods and services,” said Dederich. “And they can write it off.” Synanon was now the nation’s second largest supplier of promotional specialties—ballpoint pens, wallets and T-shirts given away as merchandising gimmicks.

The number of people who had undergone the Synanon experience passed 15,000. About a third of the 1,300 currently in residence were “squares” who were not there because they have drug problems but because they like the communal, highly structured way of life. Synanon’s purpose, however, Dederich said, is still “working with troubled people.” As always, he told the media it still accepts what Dederich called “dope fiends” off the street, and now probation officers and judges sent him delinquents from all over the country. The squares, who are also called “lifestylers,” pay to join Synanon plus agree to have their heads shaved; most also have their earlobes pierced—women wear four earrings, men one. Some converts arrived with amazing legacies. One woman donated $1 million. Ed Siegel turned over his mortgage company—Reliable Mortgage. The minimum dues were about $450 a month for a single person, $750 for a couple and $400 additional for each child.

Adult members’ time was divided into two periods: seven six-hour days of “motion,” or work such as maintenance and construction, and seven days of “growth,” when they are free to rest, read and pursue hobbies.

Children at Synanon attend school for three weeks, then work as apprentice carpenters or scullery maids for three weeks. The idea was to get some work out of them. “Everybody teaches,” Dederich says, “secretaries, prostitutes, ex-drug addicts.” Discipline remained harsh.

And Dederich admitted publicly the rule against violence in Synanon was a thing of the past: “When kids get out of line they are knocked on their asses. That treatment turns them into woolly lambs in about a week.” The system, Dederich said, seems to work, claiming Synanon children have been given national achievement tests and score well above average. Spanking was permitted. Youths were called barbarians, savages, and hit for minor infractions–slouching, not saying sir, doing calisthenics improper, and not making beds. Those trying to run away were beaten at general meetings.

For both children and adults, at all times, there was forever the Game– the say-whatever-you-want-to-say group session that Dederich invented in the early days of Synanon– as obligatory as ever. “If I were a member of the Washington circuit, I would go to cocktail parties,” Dederich said. “Here, gaming is what we do. Games are how we run our government. The game is an emotional bath.”

Every week or so Dederich and Betty joined in one of the games. “The kids love it when Betty goes after me for being too fat,” Dederich stated, “or because I smash her up while we’re having sex.”

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Dederich said, “I would have a hell of a time matching what we’ve got.” The Badger facility was in a hill-cradled enclave of modern buildings with a swimming pool and a riding stable. Fifty residents came at a time for rest and recreation. New dope fiends would do the work but he no longer wanted them near him.

The rooms at Badger were handsome, with colorful sheets and down comforters on double beds. Perfumes, body lotions, razors and aspirin are lined up on shelves. On each bedside table is a special radio on which the occupant can, among other things, listen in on any phone calls being made anywhere in the Synanon system. And, of course they could hear the Wire. In the closets were robes for the short walk to a huge communal bathroom.

Dederich awoke shortly before sunrise in his bedroom, a dark, luxurious cave, Betty having an adjoining bedroom. After a few exercises and a shower he strolled to the dining room where the first breakfasters were leaving for their daily tasks. He has a bowl of bran and coffee and lectured those who remained on the virtues of bran or anything else he pontificates upon.

Every afternoon at 3 he goes to his “outdoor office” beside the swimming pool and plays “Godfather.” “I sit out there,” he said, “and whittle and carve and glue things and people come over and visit.” Whittling was a current Dederich passion and he urged, or some hobby, on all members. As is customary Dederich suggestions were complied with. Everyone whittled—hobby lobby.

It had resulted from one day Dederich going to the carpentry shop and asking Aaron Crespoi for some bits of wood and glue he could fool with, to try and make some furniture. He got some clamps and converted an office to workshop with a beautiful mahogany glass topped workbench which was formerly his desk. He found it a pleasant way of spending time. He was not inexperienced having prior made tools out of fiberglass and plastic and was an “alley garage mechanic.” So of course everyone had to share the “pleasantry.” To sell it he talked of combining “Your head and your hands” making a more complete human being. Aaron collected a batch of tools and created a “rigging workshop.” “I think we are in for an awful of fun,’ Dederich stated: “Another step in direction of the more full conscious community. You can build some of the damnest things you’ll ever see.”

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To the media, Chuck admitted he suffered from insecurity for at 4 being responsible for younger siblings after his father died in the car crash. “I had that Big Daddy instinct very early,” he says, “and I’ve been king of the mountain for a long, long time.”

A reporter noted critics of Dederich’s rule appear to be almost nonexistent, because most that have left, like nonpersons in the Soviet, are never mentioned again. One woman, who would not allow her name to be used because she is “afraid of Dederich,” left Synanon after eight years. “Sometimes Chuck is extraordinarily compassionate and kind,” she says. “But at other times he’s cruel and vindictive. You never know which way he will swing. People who want to leave Synanon are considered crazy. You can talk about anything in a Synanon game except your own terrible conflicts overstaying in Synanon.”

Residents and alumni, the reporter stated, agreed on one thing about Dederich: at Synanon his authority was absolute. In 1970 he gave up smoking and decided everyone else should too. More than 150 members could not or would not stop and were expelled. Several more left recently when he decided all the residents should diet. (Dederich lost 50 pounds, but at 201 says he is still that much overweight.)

The possible ban on babies at Synanon, the reporter concluded accurately, was an extension of a 1970 Dederich order that pregnant women had to move into a gestation compound called the Hatchery at the beginning of their seventh month. Husbands may visit at any time, but the women must remain there until the baby is six months old. “It removes the father from some unpleasant aspects,” Dederich says, “like getting up for the 2 o’clock feeding… We don’t know if it’s a good idea or not, but we’re trying it. Nothing is sacred just because it’s been done for a million years.”

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CED salary was now $2,500.

Synanon started a Synanon Ceramics business in San Fransico using a sprung arch downdraft kiln with over 80 cubic feet of stacking space.

The Journal of Drug Abuse ran an article by Phil Bourdette and Eille Gates: “The Synanon Alternative to the Criminal Justice System.”

Synanon had a Board of Regents and Executive Committee made up of six people. Each facility had unlicensed health service departments. Non-member doctors donated time. Synanon had 230 children under age of 8 in schools in Santa Monica, Badger and Tomales Bay.

The Punk Squad was now also called The Boys Corps and Girls Corps. Synanon received a 14 year old burglar from New York. Two weeks later his 11 year old brother followed. A 12 year old who overdosed came, all referred by courts and other agencies. Synanon sent literature to judges and lawyers which kept the flow. Apparently no one on the outside was listening to the actual words coming from Dederich’s mouth.

Synanon purchased for $350 DeHavilland Beaver, six-passenger military surplus single engine airplane. Community mechanics, painters and upholsters renovated from the worn out war relic to the sparkling brand new look. It had been parked for a decade in storage outside of Tuscon. Next would be the purchase of a 1,800 acre ranch with 4,450 foot airstrip 50 miles southeast of Fesno, 7 miles from CED headquarters at Home Place. Transport fire fighters and medical rescuers were established in local mountains to serve the outer community.

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CED said it held its goods in trust for the people of the USA.

In the beginning he explained, “a small people, a small, raggedy band of people, with no money, who acquired a storefront and broke away from the rules of society and began to do something different. Fortunately, we were in a country where this was possible, we actually through the mechanisms of the non-profit foundation, obtained government help to do this. Synanon exists on government money. Everything we use here n Synanon, the exception of mickey mouse personal effects, the automobiles, or tables and chairs and the food, is the property of the people for United States. We are subsidized by this government to carry on our experiments.”

In the 60’s, he estimated 5000 communes existed that are all now gone. They did not have the proper philosophical moral base to make it. They had and they “trust in Synanon…We were a small organization back in 1967 when we put together what we called the Research and Development thrust of Synanon. We were pretty noisy because we’ve always made a lot of noise. We had Life Magazine articles, movies about us and three books had already been written. We had the name. One of the roughly 600,000 words in the dictionary–Synanon.

“But all we really had was people. It had taken us almost ten years to get there from 1958 to 1967, running probably 6000 to 7000 people to get the handful that we have now. Now in seven years since we have acquired approximately 32 million in assets and erected something like $5 million worth of buildings on the Tomales Bay properties and so on and so on.”

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Bobbie Kohl gave Dederich enough to paint “to last to me until I went to the great Game in the sky.” He learned how to pick up the glassful of paint, stand across the room and slam it in the direction of the canvas.

The new invention was the Micro-game that should not last longer than fifteen minutes. Dederich said “it’s almost like a post hypnotic suggestions of some kind. You tell game players to game and they will game in any setting. Just snap your fingers.

“The Micro game will be like a coffee break game for people sitting down.” He liked the aggressive posture that came from the, “people losing their inhibitions on the table and shake their fist and make threatening gestures and faces waiving the hands around, it’s going to be a circus. I think it’s going to be a guaranty. It will be fun.” By standing, Dederich said, they can assume a real threatening attacking attitude. You can imitate, get really aggressive. You can put a finger in somebody’s space and threatened to the face.”

The Micro game was to have twenty-five to thirty people. And it required a gallery to watch. Dederich said already he seen people begin to punch each other around. “We got a big galoot grabbing a little squirt Crawford by the throat. This was not first time they had the Micro game. It had been rejected earlier by the community and now Dederich was going to revive it. Eventually he had a 2 minute duration, eight people standing, no restriction on how many talk at once, with a minimum 25 watching.

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Dederich said Lenny Bruce was an illustration of people going pass the money. He was refreshing and different and then became a disgusting bore, used drugs and died.

Oct 13 forty gallons of water came down over rocks in Badger, turning it what Dederich called the most beautiful paradise in Calif. Synanon spent $40,000 on machinery to dig and another $4,000 for casing to lower a pump that brought up the water.

Dederich, as if knowing what the next century would bring, noted when a community of people which can be a nation or a city or a whole culture begins to get what it worked for then it goes into a new phase of its life. It begins to move out of development and over into decadence. It begins to decay.

“Now there’s nothing wrong with that,” he said. “In other words, I can’t tell you when it’s more fun– to be in a developing society or a decaying society! One of the research projects that we want to carry on down here—see if we can do simultaneously—is we want to develop and decay at the same time. Maybe this has never been done before. I don’t think it has. This is funny… It’s kind of a joke.”

Another invention, a new thinking tool, entered—the Circle and the Triangle notion. Triangle is work, building buildings, installing better equipment; Sending down a Mercedes bus, best air-conditioning, equipment to haul people uphill for winter skiing, putting in blacktop, swimming pools heater. Circle is “Our evening dinners, night after nights and week after week which are quite possibly the most gracious dining in the entire state of California, not just in Synanon, but anywhere else. The way we dine, the time we take doing it, the sound of it—people are having a good time–the way people look, because we’re a very healthy community all cleaned up and kind of dressed up and there’s a wonderful leisure about it which would not be rivaled anywhere in California.”

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Synanon newcomers were now seen as slaves.

Synanon started work at 7 and quit at 12:30. Girls “like schlep” do pots in the kitchen and “that sort of thing.” Newcomers were put into a camp. “We’re going to work their ass off,” Dederich said. “They will work all day, not play. If we like the cut of their jib after they worked their ass off for a week or a month or two, we’ll give them another carrot. We’ll let them have lunch with us once in a while. Let them on our chore schedule…maybe….maybe we will have a constantly revolving bunch of new people from the outer Synanon doing all the dirty work or most of it here: scrubbing the floors, schlepping the pots, doing all that, constantly revolving the faded ones. The good ones we keep; the rest we throw back…It may be that a resident of the Home Place will never wrestle another pot. Why do that when we got slews of dingle berries coming in here every day looking for what they can steal. Let’s work their ass off. The good ones we’ll keep. Does that sound like a good idea? It should to the pot wrestlers. It would to me. It would to me.

“ I have no interest whatsoever in living in this place like the rest of Synanon, or the rest of the world. I’ll close it up…I’ll sell it. I do not want to live that way. We came down her to make experiments in living.”

On Oct 21 CED reaffirmed Badger was not about curing addicts:

“I am not at all interested in rehabilitation of narcotic addicts. I am not at all interested in straightening out delinquent children who were accidentally born into the wrong families. We are doing that in other places.

“What we are doing at Home Place is very reminiscent of what was going on in Ocean Park. There was never a community like the one in Ocean Park in the history of the world up to that time. People banded together, lived together, fed themselves, and talked incessantly in and out of Synanon games, to do something about their own narcotic addiction. Nobody has ever done that before.

“ Synanon is a little company we put together to pay the bills. Really and truly. We have some millions of dollars to put into this experiment if we want it.

“The Harley Davidison built in l923 and not much has been done to it. It was a lousy motorcycle then and it is lousy today. Like a big motorcycle the human race hasn’t evolved at all. The human race needs rehabilitation. Like all people with a religious conviction we have got to rehabilitate the human race. I think that makes us God’s chosen people. It’s wonderful. What’s the fuck is the matter with that? Modesty is not the same as humility. Modesty is phony.”

Dederich said since people screw and slept 6 to 8 hours a day it should be in most luxurious place in one’s life. It’s possible to be so “fucking comfortable that you feel like you are coming all the time. You really can.” He instructed $50,000 be spent on a hundred beds.

On Oct 31 CED complained it seemed like a motorcycle accident happened every 20 feet between Bay to Walker Creek. It killed one man and injured “God knows how many, causing heavy pain and medical bills. Some limp for life. So slow down as accidents happen closes to home where we feel most comfortable.

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When Badger population hit 900, Tulare County responded this was excessive. Supervisor Robert A. Roumiguiere said the Syanon ranch could no more support 900 “than man in the moon can.” Supervisor Gary Giacomini said Synanon must supply a master plan detailing its growth plans. County Chief Harvey Bragon said more than 720 voltages violates county ordinance. A week later Bourdette corrected its population figure saying 150 are summer temporary residents and 45 who work there live elsewhere. As Marin had, people feared voting blocks and concerned with ability to collect local taxes.

1975 by-laws amendment now said the corporation was the soul and body through which the Synanon religion is manifested. Members of the corporation were defined as only members of the board. Residents, despite Dederich telling them they were “proprietors” and throw in therefore all their assets, were not members, had no right to vote and residency may be terminated by board with or without cause. In Oct. of 75 attorney Howard Garfield drafted an amendment to articles of incorporation adding a primary purpose the operation of a church and to promote the Synanon religion.

Meanwhile in Marin, Richard R. Harris, a staffer in the Environmental Services Division of the County Planning Department, mailed out a survey to 1,407 Marin residents asking them for opinions on Synanon for use in evaluating a master plan for Synanon’s growth. In December it was completed. 516 (37 % ) returned surveys with the areas nearest Synanon providing the highest response rate. 69 of 92 Marshall residents responded, 70 of 155 in Tomales and 34 of 50 in Dillon Beach, Point Reyes Station had 107 of 560 and Inverness- Inverness park 236 out of 550. Harris wanted to survey Synanon residents but Synanon would not allow it.

420 (82 %) were against Synanon expansion over the next ten years and 156 (30%) wanted Synanon size reduced while 113 (25%) wanted it eliminated from the community. 349 (68 %) said it was not an asset to West Marin while 84 (16 %) said it was, many citing the volunteer ambulance service and rescue service. 72 (15%) were unsure. Concerns listed included tax exempt status (42 %), its isolation (31 %), communal living (22 %) and size and population (18 %). Some worried they feared it would control politics and others noted its disregard for the larger community and some cited recent violent confrontations.

One Tomales resident wrote “I am like the rest of the bigots. I think Synanon is a needed facility in someone else’s neighborhood.” A Marshall resident wrote their buses “are running the roads, their vigilante groups are terrifying and their shaving heads are samples of mindless undemocratic, dangerous fanaticism. I think their presence is malignant.” A Marshall-Petulma road resident stated Synanon was like “the white man shoving the Indians out. We need to have twenty-four hour police protection.” A Point Reyes station man wrote, “Tax the bastards. Get them out.”

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1975 SM school closed and all children were sent to Marin ranch.

CED called Synanon an add on religion. No one was to give up the one they already follow. Their religion was a spoof, a belief man’s highest calling was evolution of his species. To change the world. Alternative lifestyles and commune are experiments for solutions for outer society. It was a statement I agreed with much later, and a reason I have written all this. Only my thesis is a little different–Study Synanon to learn how society’s both grow and fail.

CED total remuneration for personal expenses was $15, 506.69. He said he didn’t need money. Synanon was his fortune. All that was about to change.

By 75 Synon slogan “everyone’s good neighbor” was an oxy-moron.

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For 18 years shaved heads had been alternate temporary badges of punishment and demonstration. In a community marching towards separation from the outer world it was only a matter time before it became something more–a part of the religious uniform, a permanent symbol of commitment and a statement of who they were. That moment came in February of l975. Dederich was inspecting the building of a $300,000 “Mother Kitchen” at the Tomales Home Place when he climbed the stairs to the second floor which housed offices and game rooms. As he ascended he hit his head on a steel beam constructed too low. He issued a memo proclaiming anyone stupid enough to be responsible for such a mistake deserved a bald head. Then people feeling responsible for the low beam immediately shaved their heads, beginning with Chuck, Jr. and Bob Goldfeder. As Dederich was stupid enough to walk into it and to trust the project to residents he gave himself a Telly Savalas. The construction crew followed and then all approximate 800 men in Synanon followed.

What made it stick this time is that the women refused to be out done. Up until then for punishment they had dawned stockings, for demonstrations they cut their hair short but never bald. On Wednesday, February 26, three days after the men begun, the women in a game at the Tomales ranch stated they should share in equal responsibility with men and withstand equal punishment. Betsy Mumford who had put on a stocking cap was shorn on the spot. Don Cook tried to intervene before his wife Lori turned herself into an “ugly pig.” That was all the women had to hear. They saw the bald head as something more than the men did. They saw it as a permanent sign of the revolution and they wanted in, a reminder of their dedication and commitment to the cause.

The women began shearing in the game which was broadcast on the wire and resulted in clippers being setup at all locations. In Santa Monica a women’s head shaving party was underway within twenty-five minutes. A band played while the women lined up to have their hair whacked off on the ballroom stage. It took just forty-eight hours for all the dominoes to fall and for 500 female new self-images to be in place. “Bald is beautiful.” The Synanon Scene showed pictures of women joining in and cutting their hair. One was actress Sue Lyons (Lolita).

For further image reconstruction, long before it was fashionable on the outside, the women experimented with makeup, ear piercing, chains, pearls and jewelry. Dorothy Garrett one of the mudslide ladies (power is that of the mud slide) said women in Synanon had long been free–not required to bring up the children or fix meals– but now they were an equal part of the organization. To help diminish the possible adverse effect on ADGAP customers, sales ladies were taken to Joseph Magnin’s and bought $10,000 of new designer clothes.

18-year-old Lance Kenton claimed the women looked just fine. A 15-year-old girl said she knew it was a happening and wanted to be a part of the revolution. The movement spread to children age 8 or older, eventually to all. Dederich said he believed it inspired a million women around the world to shave their heads. In fact, many joined the fashion. The creator of Star Wars, George Lucas, used them as extras in his first film THX 1138.

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Badger had water supply, sewage treatment plants, spray irrigation systems, housing, country store, dining, workshops, offices, horse rides, animal husbandry. 400 licensed drivers had cars, motorcycles, campers, boats, recreation vehicles, flight school and thirteen Cesna airplanes.

As with adults, life constantly changed for the children. One moment they could be exploring in a rural paradise, in another participating in field trips or massive doses and still in another they would be marched military style in bib overall and shaved heads. 2,500 new trees were planted and Synanon got a 60-day permit in to kill off deer to preserve them. 500 signatures filled a petition to stop it but failed. 44 deers were killed and the meat donated to Saint Anthony’s Dining Hall in San Francisco.

In 1975 another mass wedding for 101 couples took place; they came wearing medieval costumes marching into wedding field with another colorful pageantry, this time including elders bearing the coat of arms of the seventeen Synanon tribes. It marked the fifth year celebration of nonsmoking.

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The most significant event of 75 happened, outside of the Alvin Gambononi beating, in the first month.

At an executive meeting Dederich said, “ I don’t see any particular harm in beginning to trend slightly towards the paramilitary in these troubled times, because it might be if we lose the case with Gil Faucette, we are going to have to go break his legs, because if the law, if the duly constituted won’t make an example of him, then we are helpless, anybody can just come and do anything they want to Synanon property. ”

At Dederich’s direction, Synanon began to acquire “lots” of guns. The attack on Gambonini soon followed (see History of Synanon violence).

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In 1975 Synanon sold one property for 2.3 million. Synanon now had $32 million in assets, 5 square miles of land, $5 million worth of buildings in Tomales Bay. Architects in Badger designed and built Redwood structures with beam ceilings, walls of glass, decks, field-stone fireplaces and hot tubs. In addition to the heated kidney-shaped swimming pool, bathing was done in outdoor showers, saunas and a giant soak tub. The buildings were furnished with art objects and beautiful furniture and the best cars and motorcycles were transferred there. The airport became known as the “Strip.” The workforce built a landing field and airplane hangar to accommodate the fleet of airplanes for recreational use. On the strip they built a house for the workers and servants. They were traveled to home place each day to cook, clean, or wait on tables and returned to strip each night after work.

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In summer of l975 Robbie Robinson, an 85-year old former executive in Gulf Oil’s Toledo office, convalescing from a stroke in his Floria apartment, wrote to an old friend and co-worker he had not seen but had been reading about for 25 years. Dederich was just 23 when he had been Robinson’s clerk and assistant. Dederich responded by moving him into Del Mar in Santa Monica where he dawned overalls and an earring while posing for a Gulf publication that bragged he was now living in a “crime free secure environment.”

That was hardly true. On May 29, 1975 a young man named Thompson walked on the property in Santa Monica to look at the beach with his girlfriend. They were taken custody by Synanon residents and threatened with violence if they came back.

And when Synanon residents attacked and beat neighbor Alvin Gambonini, Dederich wrote Dan Garrett’s son, “I am proud of you and the way your pulling this whole thing together, and am particularly pleased with the way you and your worthies dealt with our neighboring pig the other night.”

Other attacks followed.

Meanwhile the Metropolitan Police Department recommended children between ages 12 and 18 go to Synanon.San Francisco Police Department was taking Synanon residence on night rides in their vehicles, including my old high school classmate Bob Pitzele, who was now a Dederich bodyguard. Officer Jon Murray on Saturday nights, gave Synanon lessons in handcuffing.

In December of 1975 the Synanon Executive Committee devised a plan to “gobble up the assets of the foundation over some reasonable period of time, like 5 to 10 years.” The idea was to give cash to designated Synanon residents who would in turn put the cash in “Home Place Investors” namely Dederich and the board. Making the plan was accountant Ron Cook who said WAM could be increased to $2,500 per year without a federal income tax return.

And CED, liking the violent attacks on neighbors, got more involved in his Godfather image, comparing himself to a Mafia Don. The horse’s head, he said, was a stroke of genius. He was thinking of doing things to enemies they would never forget.

Steve Simon, who would later go to prison for destroying evidence, recorded it all for the Synanon Archives.