The Message

[One Version of the Message]

1959: Henry Nicholls and S. C. Slim, born to middle class families in Southern California, as is Doug Manley in 1961. Mack Reynolds is also born in 1959, but to a working class family in rural Alabama.

1969: S. C. Slim meets Henry in fifth grade. Doug's mother teaches a portion of their sixth grade class the next year and introduces them to Doug.

1970: S. C. Slim and Henry produce a satiric magazine suggesting for the first time an artistic nexus for their friendship.

1972-75: Henry moves with his parents to Europe and returns to join S. C. Slim and Doug at the same high school.

1976: Mack's family moves to Southern California and he is enrolled in that same high school. Later that year mutual friend Craig Mosley introduces Mack to S. C. Slim, Henry and Doug.

1977: Mack moves out of his parents' house to an apartment where the "group" makes its first fumbling attempts at music. Favorites: Carlos Castenada and Aqualung.

Fall 1977: With used and/or borrowed instruments and a batch of songs written that night, the band (originally the Wallboys) produces their first (but certainly not last) recorded session.

1978-79: The band (now calling itself the Mystic Brotherhood after an obscure form of mental torture popular at the time) records a series of sessions, which are mixed down to a reel to reel master. The master in turn is taken to Europe by Henry's father and erased. Moving beyond this issue proves difficult for some members of the band (Doug). Mack, S. C. Slim and Henry vacation in the Northern Mojave Desert. S. C. Slim is purportedly left to die in the desert. He does not die. Henry and S. C. Slim go off to college rather than pursuing dream of becoming a successful rock band.

1980-85: The fallow years. Only one session in 1982 which is neither recorded nor missed. Henry finishes graduate school and Mack completes his tour of duty in the U.S. Army (Rangers). Doug joins Mystic Brotherhood cover band The Undeclared, with future MB session men Richard Nicholls, Chuck Baker and Jeff Oines.

1985: Band reunites in Southern California.

1985-89: The golden years. Band records several dozen sessions and produces the lion's share of their most memorable music. They self release their only two "official" recordings: Message from the Genius (1986), Doug the Rug Man (1988).

1990-1993: Henry returns to college, but band continues to meet twice a year and record.

Christmas 1993: Final session.

1994: Mack Reynolds dies when his car leaves a winding highway and plummets into a deep ravine. The cause remains clouded in mystery.

1999: The remaining band members and friends begin recording Desert of Ideas, a CD commemorating the band.

[Another Version of the Message]

People need to understand that Mack Reynolds was completely without fear as a songwriter. I mean that each session would begin with Mack unfolding a pile of crumpled lyrics and he would ask us to play something (preferably a 12 bar blues work up) and he would sing his lyrics and more times then not it would be fantastic. And if we produced memorable music at the same time, the music always seemed to be drawn out of the need to compliment the words, words which we knew he would sing in such a way as to make them as telling as the most intimate confession. That's how it was.

[And Still Another Version of the Message]

To set the scene, one must imagine a country not unlike our own. And more particularly a southwestern part of that country, not at all far from a universally recognized amusement park.

The scene set, one must conceive of instruments like telephones and a person(s) talking into them purposefully, always purposefully.

A conversation between Zealot and Hooded Figure.

"Well, listen, I would like to jam if everybody is up for it."

"That could be fun. Let me call Louie and Paladin and see if they are available. I'll call you back."


A conversation between Zealot and Louie.

"I can't play; I've got to go to a car show with a woman."

"Okay, maybe another time."

A conversation between Hooded Figure and Old Man.

"I don't feel like going to a well-known city in this part of the country where you live, but we might be jamming; the Zealot's checking on it."

"I'd be up for that, 'though I'm concerned about the taunting I might suffer at the hands of Louie, not unlike what goes on in our famous play."

"Don't worry, everything will be alright."

"Okay, call me back."

A conversation between Hooded Figure and Louie's father.

"Louie's not here right now. He left with Paladin."

"Okay, thanks."

A later conversation between Zealot and Hooded Figure.

"I talked to Louie, and he can't make it."

"What about Paladin?"

"I don't know, I couldn't get in touch with him."

"Really? Louie's father said they were together."

"Louie didn't mention that."

"Louie's father must have been mistaken."


"I'll call Old Man. Maybe some other time."

"I'd be interested."

A later conversation between Hooded Figure and Old Man.

"It's off. Louie's busy."


I believe that future ages will with great difficulty convince themselves that these were just men and not some greater creatures formed from the purer air of art.

Perhaps we have seen what Wagner suggested so long ago- a real twilight of the gods.

—From the Preface to the play Everyman

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Copyright 2001.