MonthAugust 2001

Project Purple: Revolution or Lie?

“On Project Purple and It’s Initiatives,” the manifesto of Project Purple, was written in 1971 by the nebulous Thomas Jefferson Allen. As a legendary figure within the underground movement, this bizarre work of principles of propaganda and misinformation fueled the fires of the subversive organization he’d helped found years earlier.

It was also, says Ludwig (self-anointed scholar of “The Grand and Mutable History of Plundergate”), a fraud.

“The distribution commonly given freely on the Internet today was written by a close friend of Allen, and is so full of nonsense that it tends to provoke the myth that Project Purple is a hoax, or at least a discordian conspiracy. This was, I suspect, the original intent,” says Ludwig. Project Purple customarily releases such misinformation regarding it’s formation to the conspiracy community at large. This adds to the mystery and intrigue of the group, but, according to the (supposedly) original version of “On Project Purple and It’s Initiatives” is also a tactic which they borrow from the “socioeconomically inclined” (the upper class) to cloak their activities from the prying eyes of the government.

While the history of Project Purple is, expectedly, contradictory in several ways and very difficult to untangle, the most commonly accepted version of events begins in 1934.

Thomas Jefferson Allen was born to a poor family in the year 1934, earning an education under the tutelage of his grandfather and the papers (as he worked for a news stand from age twelve to age sixteen). The first exposure to the underground, anti-war movement within the United States was when a group of people, masked, defaced an Uncle Sam poster, replacing the words “for US Army” into “to Kill, Kill, Kill!” (or “to Kill those Chinks!”, depending on who you ask).

By age twenty-three he had written a number of essays on a variety of topics, but his written work alone was not enough to satisfy his desire to take action. Two years later, on his twenty-fifth birthday, he is said to have made his first overture to a group of close friends about forming “an organization aimed at disorganization, a subversive society aimed at subverting society. In short, my friends, an opposition to effective governance within our stifled, dry little world.” (from “the Strange-ness of October”, first p. in 1962, Masked Press)

The group (at first calling itself “Bach’s Orange Six Overture”) contented itself with the circulation of false reports to the local press and small-scale culture jamming antics. However, as the group drew in new interest from other youth groups, it began to take it’s role only slightly more seriously. As the sixties rolled around, the group took on a whole new face: an activist group.

Throughout the sixties the group worked within student organizations on university campuses and spread it’s liberal, funloving doctrines. Always working under a new guise they managed to incite protest where ever they ended up and seemed to enjoy themselves. Rather than being mere harbingers of misinformation they had become social activists with real enemies.

It wasn’t until 1971, when the group was performing some of it’s more memorable acts, that Thomas Allen decided the group needed a manifesto of intent. With the usual attitudes intact, Allen released “On Project Purple and It’s Initiatives” to an awaiting audience. As expected, it was a success.

The newly christened “Project Purple” was more than just a clique of friends doing what they felt was right, it was an underground movement that could not be put down. Throughout the seventies the group prospered as small cells popped up across the United States and Canada, then into Europe. As the eighties dawned the group became less well-recognized and fell deeper into the underground. While the campaign of misinformation and sometime outright rebellion against the social climes continued, with a perfect target in Ronald Reagan and his Cabinet, the group began to dwindle away.

Then came the Internet.

“The Internet revived and expanded Project Purple, much like it did to many other audience cults, including discordianism,” Ludwig speculates. “It allowed the group, as a whole, to come out and cause trouble in a whole new landscape. I suspect that some of the pioneers of the Internet freedom activism were involved in Project Purple, to one extent or another, at some point in time.”

It was in 1999, after years of medical troubles, that Thomas Allen passed away in his sleep. The founder of Project Purple, and some say a pioneer of modern day culturejamming, died at the age of sixty-seven.

As many will tell you, Ludwig included, all of this information is subject to speculation. True to form different accounts involving the “Bach’s Orange Six Overture” being called by different names (Greenman and Plundergate are popular candidates) and varying reports of differing antics, including the establishment of the Earth Liberation Front to “make other activist groups seem peaceable and reasonable by comparison.”

For further information on Project Purple or Thomas Allen, contact

Thanks to Jon Spencer, Atomic Boy, The Walrus and Mad Hatter for their assistance.

Special thanks to Ludwig for his assistance in gathering background information and providing sources.

Further Reading

twenty-purple:the age of the internet astronaut includes the original distribution of “On Project Purple and It’s Initiatives” as well as links to discordian sites.

The Ultimate Head Massager

The Orgasmatron massages pressure points on the back of your head and neck. (via Memepool).

Scientists Plan Cars Made of Soy

Scientists have found a way to replace metal engine parts with ones derived from soybean oil… Although the research is still in the early stages, the end result could be biodegradable cars.

Wired: The Tofu Mobile

Washington DC Plans to Catalog Kids

Under a plan initiated by the administration of Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D), the information about the children would be collected at schools using laptop computers. It would be fed into a centralized computer system, and the children then would receive ID cards containing bar codes that can be scanned by authorities, officials said.” The plan has obviously caused controversy amongst privacy rights activists. However, parental consent will be required to collect data and it will be safe from outside interests (for now).

Washington Post: D.C. Plans ID Card for Students.

(via Random Walks).

Dogs To Talk by Next Year

A gadget that analyses a dog’s whines and growls and translates them into words will be launched next year.

The “Bow-lingual”, developed by Japanese toy manufacturer Takara Co. Ltd, consists of a six-centimetre dog collar microphone that transmits sounds to a palm-sized console. The console uses 200 different words, including “fun”, “boring” and “happy”, to translate six basic dog “emotions” in real time.

New Scientist: Gadget puts words in dog’s mouth

Update: This actually was released, and was selected by Time as one of the best inventions of 2002, even though it didn’t really work (the Roomba was selected that year as well). See Wikipedia for details.

Collective Art Project/Space Time Capsule

The KEO Project is a satellite set to be launced in 2003. It is a time capsule that anyone can contribute to. (link via Memepool).

Hunter S. Thompson Column on ESPN Website

Apparently, Hunter S. Thompson had been writing a column on ESPN’s web site. However, it’s currently down for HST’s “summer vacation” to make a movie (involving Julia Roberts, or is it a joke? You never can tell with him…). Anyhoo, you can read the archives there and he says he will be back in the fall to cover football. (Link via Memepool).

Tried to Sell My Soul but Nobody Was Buying

If superherodom (see below) sounds a little goody-goody to you try getting your powers the old fashioned way — selling your soul.

Looking For a Few Good Mutants

Don’t lie, every self respecting geek at one time or another hoped to be struck by lightening, bitten by a radioactive spider, or have some other freakish random accident transform them into something more then human. In short everybody has wanted at some point or another to be a superhero. Personally I began building a crimefighting suit at age 14. Some of old school punk buddies and I used to refer to these fantasies in their most exggerated form as “the superhero madness” and would judge the fiber of new acquaintences by just how baadluy they were infected with the condition.

Well, a few days ago, this guy I know who frequently practices with num-chucks in his front yard and has gotten quite good with them actually, was approached by a shadowy figure in a local bar. “Are you the guy who is also practicing num-chucks on such-and-such street ?” asks the stranger. My friend replies affirmatively. The stranger proceeds to hand him a business card with this url on it.

“Check it out,” the guy says,”We could use a guy like you.”

Grant Morrison interview at Disinfo

A wonderful and indepth interview with Grant Morrison by Jason Louv is up at Disinfo:

I always talk about Aboriginal culture, because that’s a culture that’s been around for forty thousand years. People think they’re primitive, but I don’t believe that any culture that’s been around for forty thousand years is primitive at all. And I spoke to somebody who’s been with the Aborigines and he said this amazing thing to me which I’ve never forgot. He said, “You don’t understand these people, they’ve dispensed with technology.” [Laughs] He said that these are the most sophisticated people on the planet, but unfortunately they’ve come up against a racist government that’s mastered much cruder methods and that’s fucked with them. He said, “What do you think, we’ve gone six thousand years and made all this, what do you think they made and then dismissed?” And I was just like, “Fuck . . .” [Laughs] And they have a totally different thing, their thinking’s like fifth dimensional thinking. And if you talk to an Aboriginal, he’ll go “Yeah, we’ve been to the moon, we fly around up there, we did that ages ago.” So what I mean is that they’re actually working in full-scale technology, but we got more drunk! ‘Cause that’s how we do it, that’s how our culture destroys its insight.

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