This article originally appeared in the December 12, 1972 issue of the Boston Phoenix.
Sansuki has been called everything from a pseudo-fascist camp set up for the benefit of a couple of ideological overlords to a real and realistic alternative to modern Western society.
Hugh Kolis, a slim, intense young man with thinning, wispy brown hair, who now lives on the Sansuki commune in Western Massachusetts, used to work as an ad salesman in Boston. He had just recently purchased a new Pontiac Firebird and was thinking of getting married when the commune entered his life late one night on a radio broadcast.
“They were promising all sorts of things. I was really intrigued. This guy on the radio didn’t sound like a nut. They were coming across with things like true happiness, inner peace and a bunch of other phrases I’d heard before. But this guy somehow sounded like he really meant it, so I sent him a note care of the radio station. I invited them out to talk to me. It was not like they were uninvited guests, like the Process people. We talked for several hours one night. I wasn’t entirely convinced. There weren’t any readings they could leave me because they don’t believe in the printed word or literature or anything. But I thought more and more about what they told me about eating right and eliminating all technology and getting back to a primary consciousness and all.
“My job as a salesman began to seem more and more meaningless, like I was just a lackey of a fucked-up society. My fiancé just didn’t understand my attraction to Sansuki. She was pretty straight. And she kept burning her pot roasts. I went through a period of intense confusion, thinking about my life and where it was headed, about all the antagonisms of daily life, about what I had eaten in my twenty-five years on this earth.”
Hugh’s conversion came about on a Sunday morning at the International House of Pancakes. He was dining on a cheese omelette with a side order of sausages. The sausages caught his eye. “I couldn’t stop staring at those little sausages and I kept getting sicker and sicker just looking at them. I thought about the pigs and the snouts and the little hairs. I thought about the House of Pancakes. Suddenly everything became clear to me…my entire life, every roast beef sandwich I’d ever eaten flashed in front of me. I was really getting sick. I jumped out of the booth and barely made it to the bathroom where I vomited up everything. I vomited up my entire past.”
We met Hugh through a mutual friend who runs a bookstore in Amherst. The bookstore has attracted a lot of people including members of various communes like the Spirit in the Flesh, the Lyman Family, and the Process, but our friend says that members of Sansuki “definitely have the most peculiar aura.” They seldom speak. They don’t read books, because the printed word is just another agent of so-called rational, thinking man and has no place in their lives. But they do stop in from time to time to look at pictures, particularly pictures of plants. Thus we were able to meet Hugh and, through him, arrange a meeting with Sansuki’s leader.