A Review: DVD, Everybody Went To Max:
Remembering “Dr. Feelgood”, The Merlin Of Kennedy’s Camelot
A Documentary Biography By Martin Kasindorf
Kasindorf, Martin (auteur): Everybody Went To Max: Remembering “Dr. Feelgood,” The Merlin Of Kennedy’s Camelot, 2013, Los Angeles
Lertzman, Richard A. and Birnes, William J.” Dr. Feelgood, 2013, Sky Horse Publishing
One of the most interesting back stories of the sixties is that of Dr. Max Jacobson, the first of the amphetamine feel good doctors. Until Spring of this year when both works above appeared getting information on Jacobson and the feel good doctors was a laborious process of going through many autobiographies written by his patients. Now we have a fair rush of information.
I have already reviewed the Dr. Feelgood book and here offer some commentary on Everybody Went To Max and everybody includes the auteur, Martin Kasindorf, and his twin brother at the ages of 11-14 from 1951 to 1954. They were recommended to Max by their two aunts who were being treated by Max. Treated is the operative word here. Martin’s brother describes how when the aunts returned from a visit to Max one aunt feeling particularly energetic would roast nine consecutive pot roasts. If the twins partook of the pot roasts in commensurate measure then indirectly Max cured their anemia.
Martin has fond memories of his old doctor thus being dismayed if not offended by hostile evaluations of Max’s career. Martin’s DVD is his first commercial effort, low to non-existent budget to be sure, but effective as far as it goes.
While Lertzman and Birnes go into some detail, although at 173 pages not nearly enough, Martin’s DVD is a fast skim over Max’s life and career with no interpretation. A little too fast, actually. Martin’s collection of pictures, stills and some film clips, are quite good however the transience of the text which he wrote that handles the details leaves much unexplained. Without a background on the subject one may be left wondering what it’s all about but with some knowledge the DVD hangs together. Still, one wishes Martin had taken the time to set a context, that of Max and his amphetamine cocktails, and then broken his subject into manageable chapters or episodes.
Martin briefly mentions types of amphetamines, which are after all central to the story, while a couple of skeleton chains of molecules are flashed on the screen with no identification and none of which apply to the amphetamines he is mentioning. For a good discussion of what Martin appeared to be trying to illustrate one can refer to Nicolas Rasmussen’s On Speed: The Many Lives Of Amphetamine, 2008, NYU Press. If Martin were to bring the subject up it would have been better to present a five minute précis of Rasmussen’s discussion or something like it.
Max’s New York career would better have been put into a historical perspective to make some sense of it. For instance Max is supposed to have had no interest in money, being nearly a perfect altruist by nature, yet when Anthony Quinn, the actor, began to have medical problems from Max’s treatments and refused to pay him, if one can believe the 18,000 dollar or so debt rung up at 75.00 a shot no less, Max invaded his apartment grabbing a Rodin sculpture in payment. Unfortunately he was no longer fleet of foot as one of the experimental shots he gave himself had left him crippled in one leg. Quinn easily ran him down and snatched his Rodin back.
So Max was so spectacular it would be difficult not to make an entertaining video of his career. Martin could have done better but until he or someone else does Everybody Went To Max will have to do. Perhaps Martin should try to interest the History Channel in either running his DVD or redoing it to whatever standards the History Channel may have. Martin may already be ahead of them.
The DVD is available direct from Martin at 9.95 each, address:
419 Carroll Canal
Venice, Ca. 90291
June 6, 2013
A Review: Dr. Feelgood By Lertzman and Birnes
Dr. Max Jacobson, John F. Kennedy And Amphetamines
Lertzman, Richard A. and Birnes, William J.: Dr. Feelgood, The Shocking Story Of The Doctor Who Changed History, 2013, Skyhorse Publishing
The outstanding characteristic of 1960s New York is that the city was awash in amphetamines. The whole city was cranked up. During the sixties methamphetamines were legal. Over the counter preparations under various names from major pharmaceuticals had been available from the thirties all through the fifties and sixties as pep pills, diet pills, alertness pills, what have you.
By 1960 the dosages being administered by Feelgood doctors had been changed from minimal to not only maximal but suicidal. Behind the change were the Feelgood doctors. Chief of these was the Jewish German expatriate doctor Max Jacobson. He was abetted by many others, most notably John Bishop aka Dr. Roberts and Robert Freymann aka Dr. Robert of Beatles fame. Between just these three they distributed perhaps millions of mega doses, primarily to notable figures in politics and entertainment.
As near as can be determined the treatment was conceived by Max Jacobson in his native Germany in the early thirties. Max was born in 1900. At seventeen as an untrained assistant he was working in hospitals filled with horribly wounded war casualties. One can only wonder what effect such horrors might have had on a seventeen year old brain.
During the Weimar period Jacobson became a full fledged doctor. At the end of the decade he found a use for methamphetamine combined with the emerging discoveries in vitamins.
Amphetamines had first been synthesized by the German chemist A. Edeleano then refined to methamphetamines by A. Ogata of Japan in 1919. In 1929 Smith, Kline and French began to commercially market amphetamines under the trade name of Benzedrine.
Vitamins began to be discovered and organized in the 1920s continuing through the thirties, so that by the early thirties Dr. Max Jacobson was able to combine amphetamines along with vitamins and such old standbys as monkey glands, types of blood serum and whatever else was handy to formulate his miracle drug and panacea for the world’s ills.
Before he left Germany the Nazis, so we are told, demanded he turn over his miracle formula to them which the authors inform us he did. So then the logical conclusion is that Dr. Theodor Morrell used Jacobson’s amphetamine/vitamin formula to treat Hitler causing his psychotic reaction and inability to deal with Germany’s war problems. Thus in the History Channel’s very interesting segment in which they sneer at Hitler’s use of amphetamines they are actually sneering at the Jewish Doctor Jacobson’s magic formula for eternal youth.
But by 1935 Smith, Kline’s Benzedrine began its phenomenal success so that during the Second World War all the combatants were distributing amphetamines to the troops. The troops of course had no idea what the pills were and if they had it wouldn’t have mattered. In that context though my step-father served at Guadalcanal, one of the horror spots of a horrendous war. In one of the few times he discussed his war experience he did mention that the Army used to distribute these pills (he didn’t know what they were) that were meant to keep you alert and awake but he didn’t like the effect and refused to take them.
The bombers over Europe more or less were compelled to use them while in today’s air force pilots have to sign a disclaimer so that if they refuse amphetamines their flight commander can disqualify them for a mission
Mad Max left Germany going first to Czechoslovakia where he realized his precariousness, then for Paris and finally he fled to the security of the United States with his medical bag and a plan to turn on the world, an early day Timothy Leary.
To place Max in context, while Max acted as an individual he was part of the Jewish collective or in today’s terms, the diverse Jewish Culture. As a Jew he believed himself one of the elect superior to the other. Thus he had the desperate need to excel while at the same time wishing to be considered as one of the ‘movers and shakers’, the great politicians, the movie stars, the authors, the entertainers, the luminaries of the world.
The only thing he had to put him there was his concoction which in his more sober moments, if he had any, must have seemed of dubious value even to himself. Max was nothing but a snake oil salesman, for that reason he had to stay high on his own nostrum lest reality should intrude. To maintain the mirage he concocted an incredible persona to match his dubious nostrum. Yes, Max was hooked on amphetamines. Obviously the vitamin doses as huge as the amphetamine masked the effect while moderating the damage of the amphetamines. Max was an improbable youthful appearing ‘72 after forty years or so of amphetamines, vitamins, monkey gonads, and lack of sleep. God bless America, hey? The first one is free and after that….
Max set up business in New York, the celebrity capitol of the world. Max was Jewish and it appears that his early converts were too. If you led a strenuous life as celebrities tend to do you deplete your energy pretty quickly. It can be exhausting. So, you drop into Max’s office, he plunges the needle in and presto!, the Zippity Doo Dah Moment. The sun is shining and you go dancing out of the office feeling like a million and high as the Fourth of July. You go back, you go back again and then you can’t keep from going back. You tell everyone about the source of your well being. They go see Max and pretty soon all the Beautiful People in New York, the US and the world are beating a path to Max’s door. The 707 that made the Jet Set possible was the magic carpet into the future of post-1960. The whole era just made you high. Things got big, bigger and biggest. Money began to multiply by magic. It was the Sixties, that Magical Time. John Sebastian asked: Do you believe in magic? Sure, why not? It was the Sixties and magic was happening. And then to be flying on amphetamines as you boarded the Magic Carpet to place you in the fabled Jet Set…Wow o Wow! Far out, man.
By the end of the fifties Max had been striding through the stars like a giant Nimrod for so long he was only in a very tenuous touch with reality. Perhaps he is so out of it he doesn’t know what he looks like. Perhaps he didn’t create the persona; perhaps it was the inevitable consequence of never having to come down. John Bishop was the same way.
There is no order to anything he does. There are no precise measurements of his ingredients. He even gives instructions to his untrained assistant to mix up the medicine. I mean, wow, here let me inject you with this stuff, you might like it. The bottles of ingredients are just strewn around the office higgledy piggledy. Max looks like he never washes his hands, nails encrusted with dirt, chemicals or whatever, monkey balls, who knows, human placenta, this guy was scary, a living psychotic reaction. Boy, howdy! Yeah but Eddie Fisher called him Magic Max because of that muddle.
What a reputation that overcame filth, a bloodstained filthy smock, crap all over the floor, but few turned away. Oh well, there was that guy who got an injection and went blind for three agonizing days. When that guy came around he hung up his works and changed his way of living, changed the things he did. Life saving.
But then, the Eureka Moment Max had been waiting for came in 1960, that magical year, when Chuck Spaulding came to see him to see if he could help his Presidential candidate friend John F. Kennedy who was feeling low and having voice problems. He wasn’t sure he would be able to speak in his upcoming debate with Richard Milhous Nixon.
Boy, Max Jacobson meets John F. Kennedy. I saw that movie, but they called it Dracula Meets Wolf Man. John F. Kennedy and the Curse Of The Pharaohs. Thanks to Max he was elected; we got him whether we liked it or not. Watch Max rack ‘em up, first Hitler and now JFK. Good thing they took away his license.
Let’s pause for a moment to say something of our authors. Robert Lertzman published Screen Scene magazine while currently he is a director of an internet television network. William Birnes resume includes being an editor, publisher, literary agent and television producer. They have conducted numerous interviews while compiling an extensive bibliography. The have done their homework.
Their primary concern in Dr. Feelgood is to provide an accurate reason for removing Kennedy from the presidency. They’re not too much concerned with the aftermath of the erasure. While the Kennedy material is germane to my interests, I am more interested in Jacobson’s motivations and consequences of his experiment in mixing amphetamines, newly discovered vitamins and human and other animal glands. The glands identify Jacobson as pure quack.
Max first injected Kennedy before the first Nixon debates in which the consensus was that Kennedy annihilated Nixon. Nixon really lost the election at that time. Nineteen-sixty was worlds away from the period between the war when vitamins were new. Max had had plenty of time to tinker with his formula obviously coming up with many variations. During the forties and fifties Max had been self-medicating and trying any new variations on himself. He had been flying then for fifteen years or a little more and would continue to so do until his death at the relatively advanced age of 79. Thus, while addicted to meth Max had enough self control to manage his usage below destructive levels.
Given that self control one hesitates to call him insane still he obviously was not of this world although he had learned to function very well in it. Eddie Fisher considered him his god while it is likely that Max confused the difference between himself and god. While patients describe him as kindly that must have been so only when they treated him with the proper deference or, even, reverence. His special séances after hours when celebrities gathered around in adulation waiting for that special mixture was confused by Max as love rather than addiction. As will be seen, when the proper ‘respect’ was not shown him he could lash out viciously to the point of murder.
It seems that one would have to be very careful in one’s speech around Max lest one inadvertently dropped a remark he found offensive. At that point Max reached into his bag of recipes and gave one a stunning rebuke.
Times had changed drastically since the thirties. The Nazis were gone in fact but not gone from the minds of Max and his fellow Jews. Since the thirties the holocaust had been executed, Israel created as a nation and a country, the war of independence fought and won as well as the ‘56 war. In terror of another holocaust the Jews had initiated a campaign against the anti-Semitism they knew existed in the hearts of Americans. Movies such as Gentlemen’s Agreement as soon as 1947 began the pursuit of any anti-Semites that might exist although there had never persecution of the Jews in America.
After the ‘67 war, exhilarated by their six day victory they decorated themselves with yellow stars flaunting them openly although unlike in Germany the yellow was gold. Aggressive groups antagonistic to anyone, led by Kahane and going by names like the Jewish Defense League and the Jewish Defense Organization were terror groups not unlike the Brown Shirts of the Nazis.
Max acting as a Jewish national cultivated both the ‘Nazis’ of ‘Amerikkka’ and the Communists. Thus he was manipulating both the US and USSR for Jewish purposes. As he was being closely watched by the FBI and the CIA and most likely the KGB those organizations must have known or suspected Max’s triplicity. His office was sacked more than once. It is probable both US and USSR agencies were involved.
So, in 1960 Max turned JFK on.
If Max’s formula was appropriated by the Nazis then it is probable that Hitler’s Dr. Morrell either used Max’s formula or based his own variation on it. Perhaps monkey balls were difficult to come by in wartime Germany. As vitamins were that new back then it is quite possible that Max was the first to come up with his amphetamine cocktail.
If Morrell did appropriate Max’s formula then it is probable that both he and Max genuinely believed it was the fountain of youth and well being unaware of the destructive results of long term use. I have read that the Germans did discover the harmful affects and discontinued use of amphetamines among the troops while Japan and the Allies continued to use them.
Max then, in effect, destroyed Hitler and the German war machine. Now he turned his drug on the destruction of Kennedy in which he succeeded as only he knew how. The insignificant Jacobson’s effect on history was then out of all proportion to his personal insignificance.
The first injection was such a lift for Kennedy who was actually a walking dead man that he was hooked from the first shot. Kennedy was a very sick man. He had severe osteoporosis so that his lower back pain alone would have influenced his ability to think clearly and work. In addition he had Addison’s disease in which his body failed to synthesize corticosteroids. He had to inject serum every day of his life to artificially replace those steroids or he would have died. He should never have run for the presidency. Max’s shots allowed Kennedy to function in an apparently normal way; twist the night away there in Camelot.
Max took full advantage of the situation frequently flying to DC from New York to inject JFK. He even gave him a supply of vials to self medicate. Jack then became very dependent on his Dr. Feelgood to the point that he couldn’t function without him.
Remember that Max was playing both sides against the middle while probably favoring the Communists with whom the Jews were closely associated, the majority of any national CP being Jewish. As a caretaker of Kennedy Max was in a position to direct the course of US-Soviet politics. This occurred during the 1961 Khruschev-Kennedy summit meeting of June 4th , 1961.
Between Kennedy’s first injection for the September ‘60 Nixon debates and summit meeting of June 1961, a bare nine months, Kennedy had become addicted to amphetamines or psychologically dependent on Jacobson to relieve him not only of pain but anxiety. Kennedy had reason for anxiety in his face to face confrontation with the Soviet Prime Minister. Joe Kennedy, Jack’s father, had been a dominating father, so that Khruschev, old enough to be Jack’s father may have represented a threat to Jack’s ability to resist his influence.
Jack then insisted that Max be with him in Vienna. Now, as one believes as I do that Max was more sympathetic to the Communists than what he would have considered ‘Fascist Amerikkka’ it is not inconceivable that some sort of arrangement had been made with Khruschev to make Kennedy more manageable and suggestive by drugging.
Perhaps coincidence but Max gave JFK at least three shots just before he met Khruschev. As Max had many different formulae, as will be seen in the sequel, it is possible that he gave Kennedy, in addition to an overdose, a shot that left him open to hypnotic suggestion, to make him a Manchurian Candidate.
In any event Khruschev virtually turned Kennedy upside down and bounced him on his head. Even JFK was totally embarrassed by his performance.
Kennedy’s persistent reliance on Jacobson angered his Attorney General brother Bobby. He had several vials analyzed discovering the composition of the formula Jack was using. Subsequently then when Max and his associate Mike Semak appeared at the White House Bobby intercepted them and told them in no uncertain terms to clear out and not bother his brother again.
Max remembered Bobby’s wrath as his saying: You kikes get out of here; go back to New York where you belong. I doubt it. That may have been what they thought they heard projecting their own prejudices on Bobby but I doubt that that is what Bobby said. Remember Max had been on amphetamines for decades and Semak was probably also high. They were dealing with subjective reality to say the least.
Now comes the reason that the authors think Jack was offed. In the first place Jack is believed to have confided classified info to Marilyn Monroe as small talk that she used to threaten Jack and Bobby to get her way. The authors believe that may have been the reason she was killed.
Jack became so desperate for Max’s shots that he went crawling back to him in New York to beg forgiveness and another shot. Correct, the President of the United States humiliated himself and us by begging a quack doctor for his worthless nostrums. Max then took his vengeance on Jack for Bobby’s humiliation of himself.
He gave Jack a formulation that caused the President of the United States to strip off his clothes and run naked through the halls of the Carlyle Hotel. It took another doctor to medicate Kennedy to return to the planet. In the meantime, Max, one imagines, cackling madly had fled the scene.
Max and other Feelgood doctors such as John Bishop, aka Dr. Roberts, tried out different formulae on their clients. The performer Cherry Vanilla who thought Bishop experimented on his clients once gave her a shot that caused her to strip and actually run down the street. As that only happened once to her as well as once to Kennedy the shot must have been of that special formula.
The authors believe that the Carlyle incident threw the fear of god into high government officials who trembled at the thought of what Kennedy might do during a psychotic reaction especially with the nuclear arsenal at his command.
As Kennedy also sent his secret service men out to round up street prostitutes for his pleasure there was the fear that he could be programmed to divulge information to planted Soviet prostitutes. Their next step was obvious. The welfare of the country demanded it. Unfortunately LBJ was vice-president and we got what we got.
But JFK was merely the tip of the iceberg. Max had hundreds if not thousands of clients. The authors mention many of them and publish a list of some of them at the back of the book. Let’s assemble a group of his clients closely connected to Kennedy. This is interesting:
Jack and Jackie were both users. Jackie’s family believed that the lymphoma she contracted came as the result of Max’s injections and was responsible for her death. Jack invited disaster and received it.
Sinatra, Kennedy and Giancana were involved in discussions or negotiations of some kind. Sam Giancana was the front man of the Chicago Outfit. The three men shared the two women Judith Exner and Marilyn Monroe. Exner was a courier between Sinatra and Giancana and Kennedy. She didn’t realize what she was in the middle of until it was too late, or knew it but couldn’t figure an out until later. She chose the way of being overweight and therefore undesirable to find an exit.
Monroe was caught in a savage crossfire as she chased John Kennedy but was used by Giancana and Sinatra to punish Kennedy. The authors believe that because she threatened to reveal classified information imparted by Kennedy that CIA/FBI did away with her.
That they all used Max is fairly remarkable. That leaves it open as to whether Max received and transmitted information or whether he extracted information for his own purposes.
Mark Shaw who was CIA passed as a photographer, not surprisingly receiving commissions from insider publications to build his reputation and cover, was also a pilot who flew Max back and forth, DC and New York. It seems likely he was murdered by Max who gave him a hot shot. Lawford and Bishop and Davis had subsidiary roles while Goulet probably functioned as a handyman.
All and all Max’s role on the Kennedy administration was astonishing. He had certainly injected himself into the center of things. Not too bad for a kosher butcher’s son.
Perhaps even more astonishing was the effect he had on New York City. As he probably originated the amphetamine/vitamin cocktail while introducing it to New York in the forties it follows that the Feelgood doctors, including Hitler’s Doctor Morrell in that group perhaps spuriously, were following his example.
One isn’t surprised then to find Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick among his clients. Andy, so he said, visited Jacobson once, didn’t like it and never went back. Of course Andy was creating his own amphetamine scene preferring Obetrol himself, as well as was Bob Dylan another heavy amphetamine user. Already in competition with Dylan for top spot in Bohemia Andy probably didn’t want to enhance Max as a competitor for No. 1 while possibly becoming dependent on him.
Edie not only used Max but also John Bishop and also Freymann. Bishop also used his own medicine. The amphetamines must have loosened one’s attention to detail because Bishop ran the same sloppy type of operation as Max did.
In Bishop’s case Cherry Vanilla, she who ran naked down the street, believed that Bishop used his clients as guinea pigs trying out different formulae. Her opinion was that you never knew what was in the works.
One is surprised that Max wasn’t stopped by the CIA, by stopped I mean cold. If they would kill Kennedy I don’t see why they wouldn’t off Max. Perhaps he had powerful protectors.
He was allowed to operate unimpeded until 1972 when the medical board brought charges against him. It took three years to lift his license but by 1975 Max lost the right to practice legally although he still operated out of another doctor’s back room.
However without his license Max was no longer an MD thus being unable to maintain his amphetamine fueled fantasy notion of himself. Max faded quickly dying in 1979, although one year short of eighty he couldn’t have gone on much longer.
What is truly remarkable is that after fifty years of amphetamine use his body was intact and his mind functioning. If he had any psychotic episodes they went unreported. Either Max did know a magic formula that allowed him to operate outside reality or he led one damned charmed life.
The amazing thing is that the biographers and historians give Max such scant notice except Lertzman and Birnes in this important and even entertaining book. Great reading and well worth the price of admission. Get yours today.