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How did a Tibetan refugee with no formal religious training become the most powerful Tibetan Buddhist leader in the West and a best-selling author, while he beat, abused and humiliated his followers?

This book finally sheds light on a decades-long story of deception and moral corruption that is the background to the life of the infamous Tibetan lama, Sogyal Rinpoche, who died on August 28, 2019, in Bangkok, aged 72.

Co-authors Mary Finnigan and Rob Hogendoorn have traced the entire history of Sogyal, from his origins in a family of traders in rural Tibet, through their flight to India after the Chinese invasion, to his arrival in Cambridge, England, accompanied by the Prince of Sikkim. It was here that Mary, a professional journalist, first met him in 1973.

This renowned guru, who came to be revered by thousands around the world, was accused of violating dozens of his aides and devotees over the past thirty years. The authors – an investigative reporter and a specialist in Tibetan Buddhism – have gathered all available evidence from victims and eyewitnesses to tell a tale of sexual exploitation, physical violence, emotional manipulation and relentless denigration. It was all perpetrated by a holy man with fabricated credentials and covered up by his foundation.

Living secretly in self-imposed exile in Thailand for the past two years while being treated for colon cancer, he remained beyond the reach of police investigations and civil suits underway in five countries. His organization, the Rigpa Fellowship, is still in business, with over a dozen active centers in the West.

Early complaints from his followers were met with denials and doctrinaire obfuscations. Then in the mid-1990s, soon after publication of Sogyal’s best-selling The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, more women came forward with accusations. In the UK, the mainstream media started to take an interest. Mary Finnigan’s piece in the Guardian and her broadcast on BBC Radio 4 were followed by Mick Brown’s cover feature in the Telegraph Magazine.

Galvanized by the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, the trickle of accusations has slowly turned into a flood in recent years. His organization’s cover-up attempts wore thin after the Dalai Lama himself stepped in.

The book does not sensationalize the perverse behavior that caused untold suffering to scores of devotees. It’s a fact-based account, backed by exhaustive research grounded in decades of first-hand knowledge by two Buddhist practitioners. It’s also a story about the culture clash that occurs when an exotic émigré from a feudal, patriarchal Tibet is greeted with unwitting acceptance and adulation by spiritual seekers in 21st-century liberal democracies.

Bibliographic Data
Title:  Sex and Violence in Tibetan Buddhism: The Rise and Fall of Sogyal Rinpoche
ISBN-13: 978-0-9863770-9-9
Publisher: Jorvik Press
Publication date: July 1, 2019
List Price: US $19.95; UK £15.95; EU €17.95
Size: Trade paperback, 6 x 9 in (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
204 pages; 25 B&W illustrations

As the Mersey Sound was slowly fading in 1965/6, it seemed that The Cavern Club was losing its relevance after closing its doors for a few months, due to the bankruptcy of Ray McFall in February 1966. But that was not the case – the club reopened in July 1966 and was world news again with Harold Wilson, the UK’s Prime Minister, officiating at the ceremony.

Nevertheless, this phase of The Cavern’s history does not arouse much interest among scholars. For example, Spencer Leigh, who has written three books on the subject, only touches lightly on the years 1966-69, devoting less than thirty pages to the period. It is hardly fair that no one has taken more interest in the time when the charismatic Alf Geoghegan took command. And when his daughter Debbie came to the rescue!

No, The Cavern did not enter a third incarnation in 1966 – quite the opposite. In the hands of another entrepreneur or corporate group that surely would have happened, but not with the good Alf at the helm. Alfred was the owner of Wilson’s, a small chain of Liverpool butchers, very popular among the locals. He was also blessed with abundant energy, a cheerful and kind character and a good eye for business. When he learned that the building owners were soliciting offers to take over the lease, Geoghegan got to work.

First he consulted with his daughter, Debbie. But her opinion was a foregone conclusion, because she had been practically living in The Cavern since 1961. She often went to both daily sessions at the club, saw all the groups, had been a Beatles fan since they dressed in leather, knew the sets and, above all, understood what the regulars liked. Debbie immediately advised her father to take over the venue and he insisted that she help run the club. Debbie must have thought she was in seventh heaven. Work at The Cavern!?

Alf, along with a partner, secured the lease for about £5,000, a very considerable sum in April 1966. The deal included use of the basements of numbers 8, 10 and 12 Mathew Street. In no. 8 was the original club, while the already empty no. 10 had housed Cavern Sound Studios (independent of the club and with all equipment removed) and in no. 12, behind a brick wall, was another dusty empty basement, not unlike the Cavern proper. All this space now had a rear exit to an alley that ran parallel to Mathew Street and linked to it. This is something that, without knowing for sure, Pop Thing has always claimed based on evidence that has drifted in over the years.

With this expanded subterranean space at their disposal, Alf and his team undertook a renovation study that would respect the original club layout while including more leisure areas. In addition, there would be a wider entrance (actually, the old one was closed, but it was not altered at all) and modern electrical and sanitary facilities.

What was inaugurated in July 1966 was the old club and much more: those of you who know the Tiles Club of London can get an idea of ​​the new Cavern – it had a cafeteria and bar serving simple meals, a clothing store, exhibition space, and areas to sit quietly and listen to records. And of course, it was still the same place where the groups played.

Alf did not want to incur McFall’s mistakes. He always aimed for viability, he wanted the business to pay off while still maintaining its role as an internationally renowned cultural centre. And with Debbie as a guide, he got it 100%.

Those five years of success are peppered with anecdotes. Debbie remembers everything because she was in the front line and wanted to pay homage to her father and claim his role in the club’s history. There was material for a good book. Debbie prepared it and Jorvik Press (Portland, Oregon) published it in 2016. Cavern Club: The Inside Story (176 pages) is not just another of the many titles dedicated to The Cavern or Liverpool’s Mersey Beat. As mentioned, this is because it’s about an era for which there is very little information from reliable sources. That’s what stands out in Debbie’s book, the large amount of unpublished data and unknown everyday stories it contains. As it is well written and edited, the 176 pages flash by.

It is hard to choose one revelation over another, but there are some very exciting ones: their tour of the closed club, lanterns in hand, with the newly acquired keys; the re-inauguration with the Prime Minister (and Rufus Thomas, Solomon Burke, Georgie Fame, The Searchers, The Merseys and a thousand others); the return of the good times (with Bob Wooler included!); the presence of an organist who enlivened the kids that went to the cafeteria with his Hammond; Chuck Berry, sitting in a chauffeur-driven car parked in the middle of Mathew Street, demanding to be paid cash before going on stage; the relationship with Radio Caroline; performances by legendary artists Lee Dorsey, Edwin Star, Chris Farlowe, The Who in 1967, and an excited Paul McCartney (in 1968) and a thousand other things, all very interesting.

If you got this far, it’s clear you’re interested in The Cavern and the Liverpool Pop Scene of the 60s, so this book will not disappoint you. It also contains many photographs rarely if ever seen. There is an excellent one of The Escorts! The book, which does not have a Spanish translation, can easily be found on Amazon.

Extra Bonus Info: Debbie Geoghegan stopped working at the club when her father received a suitable offer for the business and decided to sell it in 1970. After marrying and working in other family businesses, Debbie divorced her first husband and married Nigel Greenberg, whom she had actually known most of her life because, quite by coincidence, he was one of the founding partners of Cavern Sound Limited, the recording studio that operated in the club between 1964 and 1966. Martin Craig wrote about the studio in a two-part article we published in 2010.


Scarlet Ribbons Cover

Honourable, impassioned and tender
— Sara Maitland

A quiet triumph of the spirit
Library Journal

A soul-searching testimony
The Observer

Rosemary Bailey gives an unsentimental yet heartbreaking account of her brother’s life, from his strict upbringing by a fundamentalist father, through ordination as an Anglican priest, then gay liberation, to his diagnosis with AIDS and a long debilitating illness that he never allowed to defeat him.

Rosemary captures the sad drama that consumes Simon Bailey, rector of the South Yorkshire village of Dinnington, as he breaks the news of his homosexuality and his illness, first to friends, then to close parishioners, and finally to his family, the church authorities and the media.

While slowly succumbing to AIDS, the Rev. Bailey continues to hold services in the parish church, while his parishioners care for him around the clock through his final months.

The story was the subject of the BBC Everyman documentary, Simon’s Cross.

Bibliographic Data:
Title: Scarlet Ribbons: A Priest with AIDS
Author: Rosemary Bailey
Publisher: Jorvik Press
ISBN: 978-0-9863770-3-7
Publication Date: July 29, 2017
B&W 6 x 9 in. (229 x 152 mm); perfect-bound with matte lamination
224 pages; 21 B&W illustrations
Retail price: US: $19.95; UK: £15.95; EU: €19.50

Cavern Club by Debbie Greenberg

A great street-level history of one of the world’s most famous small music venues. This inside story is the real thing.
John May The Generalist

Mini-skirted Debbie Greenberg’s… first-hand, fan’s-eye, gossipy chit-chat and fashion notes have tactile authenticity, from resident DJ, Bob Wooler’s ‘Hi there, all you cave-dwellers,’ to bassist Stuart Sutcliffe standing with his back to the audience ‘so no one could see how he was playing’, and Pete Best (‘sultry, fiercely good-looking and oozed sex appeal’).
Andrew Darlington, R2 magazine

A fab read for any 60s music fan. Richly illustrated with… rare photos, posters and press cuttings… The day Paul McCartney popped in with his new girlfriend, Linda, to show her where the Beatles story began is particularly special.
Simon Fine

As a teenager, Debbie Greenberg was spending far too much time at the Cavern Club in her hometown of Liverpool, England. It was already the most famous music club in the world, where she had been dazzled by the Beatles’ debut performance and witnessed their rise to stardom for two years before watching the local heroes leave home.

Then in 1966, after the previous owner declared bankruptcy, her father asked out of the blue if she thought it would be a good idea to take over the club. It was an offer she couldn’t refuse. She’d been a Cavern fanatic since it was a jazz club, hardly missing a lunchtime or evening rock session until its closure a few weeks before – amid mass protests by Liverpool youth.

Now she was suddenly part of a new family business, faced with the task of helping to breathe new life into a dilapidated rock ’n’ roll shrine and build on the legacy of the legendary Mersey Beat.

This first-hand account of her ten years frequenting and eventually managing the original Cavern Club is the authentic inside story of the Beatles’ launch pad, full of triumphs and failures – and surprise celebrity encounters.

Richly illustrated with dozens of photos, posters and press clips.

Bibliographic Data:
Title: Cavern Club: The Inside Story
Author: Debbie Greenberg
Publisher: Jorvik Press
ISBN: 978-0-9863770-4-4
Publication Date: 10/24/2016
B&W 6 x 9 in. (229 x 152 mm); perfect-bound with matte lamination
190 pages; 94 B&W illustrations
Retail price: US: $19.95; UK: £17.25; EU: €19.75

Psychedelic Suburbia book cover

David Bowie was 22 years old and still living with his parents in southeast London when, quite by chance, he met Mary Finnigan while visiting her upstairs neighbours in nearby Beckenham. Still an unrecognised talent haunting the London folk clubs, desperately seeking paid gigs, he couldn’t even dream of a future as a global rock phenomenon.

Life started to take interesting turns after he moved in with Mary and her two children in the spring of 1969. With a small group of psychedelic pioneers, they launched the Beckenham Arts Lab in a local pub and organized a free music festival in the town’s park.

That summer his first hit, Space Oddity, made it into the charts and became the theme song for the first moon landing. He was suddenly on a trajectory towards superstardom.

Millions of words have been written about Bowie’s life, but his early days as a struggling songwriter and performer have been shrouded in hearsay. Here is the full story of his pivotal year in Beckenham, written before his death by his friend, lover and landlady, one of the first people to encourage and support him.

For this expanded first edition, the author has added an epilogue on the aftermath of Bowie’s death two days after the book was first published. New images include two previously unpublished photos of his Beckenham days.

Highlights book cover

Milan Melvin was one of the most fascinating figures out of the sixties. In fact, a case could be made that he helped to shape the time of our lives. Peter Laufer is one of the sharpest journalists out of the sixties. In one of his last major decisions, Milan asked Peter to help him tell his story. Together they do, and it is one for the ages. Light up, buckle up and enjoy the flight. — Ben Fong-Torres

In a world of posers, Milan was the rare real thing. An adventurer and a strong friend. My friend. — David Crosby

When Milan Melvin rose point astride his iron palomino Harley, our caravan slept easy in the sixties, knowing he had one eye on the bad guys and heaven in his holster. — Wavy Gravy

Lean, lanky, self-contained, charming, and a natural gentleman – one of a dying breed even then. — Joan Baez

Milan Melvin was a driven, elusive, creative, lovable adventurer who colored the lives of all around him. His many-faceted career started with a stint as an undercover operative for the FBI at UC Berkeley – until he started falsifying reports.

He went on to trade Native American jewelry, import marijuana, hang with Hell’s Angels, co-found alternative radio – notably the legendary KSAN San Francisco – work on films, produce music, befriend Janis Joplin, and marry Mimi Farina, the sister of Joan Baez, who wrote her very first song about him.

Leaving America for 10 years, he lived with Tibetan Khampa guerrillas, funded a daycare center for Tibetan refugee children in Nepal, smuggled gems out of India, Burma and China, and manufactured jewelry in Thailand, before settling in Bali.

On his return, Milan worked with film director Carl Gottlieb on Caveman, appeared on Saturday Night Live, produced TV shows and managed the acting career of former Oakland Raider John “Tooz” Matuszak. Returning to charitable work, he and his wife Georgeanne raised and funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of medical and material aid to anti-government organizations during El Salvador’s civil war.

In his last decade, Milan lived with his wife in seclusion in Wolf Creek, Oregon, before moving to Mexico for his final adventures.

Rob Neufeld’s review of Mirrors of the Mind appeared in Asheville Citizen-Times shortly before Ron’s book launch at the University of North Carolina, Asheville.
Read review

University of Copenhagen researchers led a nationwide study in Denmark comparing individuals who died from suicide to matched controls between the years 1996 and 2009. Essentially, the researchers found that increasing levels of psychiatric care are associated with “a severely increased risk of dying.” They concluded, “The public health significance of this finding may be considerable.” You would think the press and public would be outraged. The study was totally ignored.

The researchers found that taking psychiatric medications during the previous year made a person 5.8 times more likely to have killed themselves. If a person had made contact with a psychiatric outpatient clinic, they were 8.2 times more likely to have killed themselves. Visiting a psychiatric emergency room was linked to a 27.9 times greater likelihood of committing suicide. And if someone had actually been admitted to a psychiatric hospital, they were 44.3 times more likely to have committed suicide within the year.
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“Mom, won’t you tell the world how we’re treated?” This was Luise’s last request to her mother, Dorrit Cato Christensen. She wanted her to describe the treatment she had received in the Danish mental health care system. With this book Dorrit fulfills her daughter’s wish.

What follows is a heartrending account of a life in our psychiatric care system, a life cut tragically short – the same fate suffered by many vulnerable people being treated for mental health problems. Every year more at-risk psychiatric patients end up like Luise – we know that this population’s lifespan averages 15 to 20 years less than others in their age group. This is a clear sign that we have to change the way we treat psychiatric patients.

We must improve conditions by offering quality time, attentiveness, compassion, evenhandedness and respect to every patient, so we can design the best treatment solution for each person. We need to talk openly about mental health issues and strengthen our networks of patients, families and friends. To this end I have set up a virtual meeting place, the website, now consulted by a growing population in Denmark. In 2009 I took the initiative to found an association called Det Sociale Netværk af 2009 (The Social Network of 2009), bringing together a wide range of national voluntary mental health organizations in a joint effort to improve conditions in Denmark for the mentally ill and their relatives. The organization of which Dorrit Cato Christensen is president, Død i Psykiatrien (Death in Psychiatric Treatment), is now part of our network.

I come in contact with many people who have been, or currently are, admitted to a psychiatric ward. Most have inside experience of various facilities and all agree that there are significant differences in approach from one institution to the next. A young girl said to me: “As soon as you set foot in the ward you know what kind of hospital stay you’re in for. Whether the mind-set is caring and responsive, or whether the place is ruled by coercion, constant evaluation and a staff that ignores you.”

We should not, in all conscience, allow sub-standard treatment in a country like Denmark, yet it happens all the time. I have often heard patients say: “You must be strong to be psychologically vulnerable.” When studies show that psychiatric caregivers harbor more negative expectations and prejudices about the mentally vulnerable than the general population, it means there is a problem inherent in our mental health care system. This is exacerbated by a dreadful lack of resources in psychiatric treatment wards.

The most important thing to remember is that first and foremost we are all human beings. We must not forget this for one second, before any incapacity or vulnerability is analyzed, defined and written down. This is why it is so important to see behind the facade of a diagnosis. A diagnosis is like an overcoat – the real person is found underneath it. This is one part of her daughter’s life story that Dorrit describes so movingly for us – her personhood, her humor, her compassion and her zest for life.

When I meet people who support The Social Network, who form networks on our website Psykiskså, or participate in our regular Sunday get-togethers, it strikes me how similar we humans really are and how much we have in common. There is basically no real difference between you and me and a person who happens to have been given a psychiatric diagnosis. It is not a question of these people being completely different, but more that sometimes they may experience so much inner noise that they are thrown off-balance and become vulnerable.

The most important thing we can do for psychiatric patients is not to keep them isolated. Loneliness is their worst enemy. And it is crucial that we nurture hope, that we hope and believe we can find the best in each other, and that we make room for the individual. Hope is the vital life-giving elixir for the soul, mind and body – to be able to sense that the people around you believe in you, that you are valued, that you are needed. We become whole when others believe in us. And we’re most likely to find this when we feel the solidarity of good fellowship.

I would like to thank Dorrit Cato Christensen for her work with mental health patients and their families and friends, and for the very important work she is doing as president of the association Død i Psykiatrien. Her book is a poignant contribution to the debate, in which she openly and candidly tells the story of her daughter’s sad fate and gives us a glimpse of our mental health care system groping for the right treatment. Luise’s hospital records show that she told her caregivers she felt she could not tolerate the drug treatment they prescribed and wanted them to phase it out. But instead of less medication, she got more. This turned out to be fatal.

Many patients and relatives will already be familiar with the situations and events Dorrit portrays here. Many will see their own lives reflected in this story and perhaps even find the energy to fight for a dignified life. I also hope that mental health practitioners will read the book, then stop and think carefully about how they can deepen their professional skills through respect for the individual. We can be certain of one thing – pills are not and never will be enough. We must constantly listen to our patients and think carefully about whether we are giving the right medicine to the right person. The “medicine” that always works for the psychologically vulnerable is to approach them with compassion, nurturing, trust and calmness.

Poul Nyrup Rasmussen
Danish Prime Minister 1993-2001
Member of European Parliament 2004-2009

Read more about Poul Nyrup

Estranged from his parents at an early age, Hammond made up for the loss by exerting his sense of adventure, coupled with an uncanny ability to socialize positively with just about everyone he met. Consequently, where others might have faltered, he moved from scene to scene – first on the West Coast, later in Europe and Morocco – almost magically protected by his innate bonhomie and easygoing lifestyle, while having extraordinary and often hilarious adventures.

We first met in San Francisco in the late 1960s when the Haight-Ashbury was the Mecca of the American youth diaspora; draft dodgers were leaving for Europe, and particularly England. Though Hammond was clever enough to dodge the draft without having to emigrate, the cost of freedom had become too expensive, and he split the US with his wife Wendy and headed east. As Hammond and Wendy passed through London we met again, this time in the squats of Prince of Wales Road, a half-derelict inner-city zone where all you needed to steal a house was a jimmy and a lookout.

All sorts of happenings and counterculture events were flowing in a continuous stream. The underground press, arts labs, psychedelic nightclubs and sheer exuberant street life, coupled with the international exchange of ideas and experiences, made the cities of Western Europe a cultural melting pot. For a life-artist like Hammond this was evidently more than just fun.

Adept at writing, staging spontaneous events and ingesting neuroactive substances, Hammond swam through the culture like a salmon in familiar ocean currents. He could have become a well-known poet or a masterly oil painter, a filmmaker or a travel guide. But the thing about generalists is you never know where they are going to pop up next. And through the whole of AsEverWas runs his laidback delivery, serious yet very funny, with an old-world politeness reminiscent of Alistair Cooke’s Letters from America (and unlike Mr. Cooke, Hammond doesn’t suffer from the impediment of a hungry ego).

The dramatis personae of AsEverWas include many figures, both well known and little known, too numerous to name. But to pick a few at random from a cast of hundreds, look out for poet Allen Ginsberg, author William Burroughs, singers Nico and Carmen McRae, streetwise Hube ‘The Cube’ Leslie, musician Pete Townshend, Digger Emmett Grogan, and TV presenter Kenneth Allsop. Or the cameos of actor Del Close, an unreformed happenings artist (who later wrecked my own piano in a Notting Hill church hall, but that’s for another time). Then there are the funny episodes. I can’t even remember laughing so much as I did at the surreal absurdity and nail-biting suspense of Hammond’s Moroccan adventure.

One other thing, this is a true story, all of it. And the fact that it stops at 1976 can mean only one thing: watch out for the sequel folks. Hammond has returned to his artistic root and he’s riding high.

John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, London, 2002