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And then not tell anyone about it. On a high-desert morning soon to source hot as hell, Michael Nesmith - former Monkee, current philanthropist, and perpetual man-with-a-mission - enters a cool room just big enough to comfortably hold five brains.

Not the organs, of course, but five live, gifted thinkers, ranging from professor Nikki Giovanni, one of the few famous living poets with street cred, to Nobel Prize winner Murray Gell-Mann, the father of quarks. Nesmith's sandals shuffle quietly as he takes his place at the head of a conference table.

His thinning silvery hair is mussed; his golf shirt needs tucking in. He is here this bright morning to give a pep talk, and the brains listen closely, for good reason. Nesmith, once known as the "smart Monkee," will soon turn 58, putting him a full 32 years away from his TV days of knit caps and sideburns.

In these parts, Nesmith is the head wrangler, the foreman of the frontal lobe. And it's his intention that the brains will cogitate for the good of humankind - spending 12 hours in hot debate until they find the answer to a single, nigh-impossible question: What is the most important College Hookup Gay Republicans Caught On Microphone Amplifier of our time?

The name of this biennial exercise, which Nesmith invented and has hosted sinceis the Council on Ideas. It's an oddball gathering of intellectuals otherwise about as likely to run in the same circles as Jesse Ventura and Margaret Thatcher.

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Here, they are nudged into artificial convergence - a kind of in vitro fertilization whose outcome, if all goes brilliantly, will be a strong, viable idea that, as Nesmith puts it, "changes everything.

Cherif Bassiouni, inveterate advocate of an international criminal court; anthropologist Anna Roosevelt, great-granddaughter of Teddy and a MacArthur grant recipient for her work on Amazonian Indians and the tropics; and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stanley Karnow, Vietnam War correspondent and foreign affairs curmudgeon, who was added at the last minute because novelist Carlos Fuentes took ill.

Unlike bedrock pragmatists, Nez says the value of the idea itself will make ripples.

Once the council begins, only the five brains will be allowed in this room. I, however, will experience the next best thing. After much wheedling, Nesmith set aside his inherent distaste for reporters and agreed to let a select few hear snippets of council musings through headphones outside the room.

And when the retreat ends, I alone will watch the meetings on videotape - the most extensive press access ever granted. Herein lies the weirdness, at least for people who believe that an idea without hype is like a bee without buzz.

The Council on Ideas seeks the world's most hot-button issue, but uses no infomercials, billboards, blimps, or any other forms of advertising to announce the results. The nonprofit that oversees the council - the Gihon Foundation - posts bios of council wonks and full texts of their "position statements" on its Web site www.

Most academics in the social sciences, that source never read anything by people who disagree with them. Former call centre worker, 30, hanged herself in a hotel It would be an extraordinary moment," he says, as if he's seeing film clips in his head. Fortunately for me, I've made my peace with myself and accepted the left's contention that people are nothing more than the amalgamation of their attributes - gay people think a certain way, women think a certain way, black people think a certain way and it's just an immutable part of their nature, you can't actually choose to think a certain way, it's just the way you were made. Over the decades, the ex-bandmates sent Nesmith a steady stream of reunion offers, which, aside from playing two concerts in the '80s, he always declined.

The only other nod to the information age is a meager press conference tacked on at the council's end, mostly because Nesmith - Nez, to his friends - thought the brains would focus better if they knew public scrutiny loomed. Beyond that, Nez prefers the cocklebur method of IT: Have host, will travel. He's heard the snickers.

What's the point of identifying the most important issue of our time if you don't let anyone know about it? Why pay attention to a man known mostly for his dry wit and facial hair?

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The news media, it's true, sticks to Nesmith's Monkee-ness like gum on a go-go boot. Never mind that Nez helped invent MTV and country rock, that he published a novel and pioneered a home-video distribution business, and that he cut 13 post-Monkees albums and produced cult film classics like Repo Man. And never mind that Nesmith - who could choose to be as ostentatious and narcissistic as the next gazillionaire rock star - instead carries on the philanthropic traditions of his mother, Bette Graham, the inventor of Liquid Paper typing-correction fluid.

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Except for the mom bit, reporters don't care about Nesmith's real accomplishments. And who needs another pun headline? Ex-Monkee Is Also a Novelist. He warns that they'll bicker and possibly even brawl. Two brains in the council argued so bitterly about Fidel Castro, he says, that the entire group walked out.

He encourages them to start with easy ideas "It may be something as simple as 'be kind to animals' or 'ripe fruit is best'" and work up to visit web page hard stuff. A few miles down a twisting dirt road off the highway, Casa Nez sits against a click at this page of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. I arrive on Friday morning, well ahead of the council's evening kickoff reception, to get a jump on the brains.

I crunch down a gravel drive through a raised electronic gate and park near the one-story Gihon Foundation headquarters, out of which emerges a smiling woman in shorts and a T-shirt.

She's Victoria Kennedy, Nesmith's main squeeze. They met 13 years ago, when Kennedy was a year-old model and Nez was a year-old recovered pop icon with two dissolved marriages. Kennedy is Nesmith's archivist and extremely low-key publicist; she also runs Videoranch. Originally set up to sell out-of-print Nez albums, Videoranch now offers Nez videos and collectibles and a Gene Autry-meets-Desiderata ambience, complete with the kind of musings usually heard when there's a bong nearby.

Kennedy gives me a quick tour. Here, she points, is the house: There's also a studio filled with guitars, computer equipment, and the Monkees' shiny platinum records. Down a slope sits the guest house, where Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Nesmith's good friend, is staying for the weekend. Turning to her left, Kennedy points to the old steel trailer in which Nesmith's mother whipped up batches of Liquid Paper.

Kennedy calls it an informal museum, but it's really more of a family shrine, complete with the rusty mixer Graham College Hookup Gay Republicans Caught On Microphone Amplifier when inventing the goo, along with photographs telling her story. In the early '50s, as the tale goes, Graham was a divorced single mom in Dallas struggling to raise young Michael on a paltry bank secretary's salary. A commercial artist in her spare time, Graham wondered why she couldn't just use white paint to hide all the typos she made at the bank.

She experimented with tempera and various formulas until - ka-boom - "Mistake Out" was born. She first mixed the recipe in the kitchen, helped by teenage Mike, and later expanded to a trailer in the backyard. In by then Nez was already a superstar MonkeeGraham opened an 11,square-foot Dallas production facility and renamed her product Liquid Paper.

She later College Hookup Gay Republicans Caught On Microphone Amplifier the profits to start the Gihon Foundation, named after an Old Testament river. Like her, he is a Christian Scientist, an artist, and an inventor with chutzpah.

Nesmith inherited a lot more from his mother than fortune and foundation. Like her, he is a devout Christian Scientist, an artist, and an inventor with entrepreneurial chutzpah. Like his munificent mother, Nez made it big without the benefits of early privilege or even a high school diploma he says he dropped out. And like his mother, he seriously craves the serious. But their passions differed.

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Graham's foundation gave grants to support women artists and entrepreneurs. Nesmith thought grant-giving didn't do enough.

The Council on Ideas seeks the world's most hot-button issue, but uses no infomercials, billboards, blimps, or any other forms of advertising to announce the results. The idea of "political correctness" is a communist term of art. Beloved track coach and teenage girl are named among the 17 tragic victims of Florida high school Doesn't matter if it's left or right, authoritarianism is what is about. They did not mess up when they gave me freckles or when they made me to be gay.

When Betty Friedan addressed the foundation in the '80s, he'd seen how even one big thinker could set neurons afire. A council of thinkers, he figured, might stumble upon what the world is short on these days: The council's headquarters is a refurbished barn in Nesmith's compound that also houses the Gihon Foundation and a gallery for Graham's art collection works by Georgia O'Keeffe, Helen Frankenthaler, Grandma Moses, and others.

Adjacent to the gallery is the big-windowed thinkers' room. And in a windowless space nearby, Marcia Summers - Gihon's part-time director and the only staffer - tackles the details of conferencedom. The toughest part of Summers' job - recruiting the brains - takes a year to accomplish. Gihon members, council alumni, and community leaders in designated cities compile a list of as many as nominees, who vary in race, gender, culture, discipline, and nationality.

The list is whittled down through a series of votes, with final approval coming from the Gihon trustees: Reasoned though the process sounds, you have to wonder: Does a bigthink exercise like this see more get you anywhere?

Kennedy plants me in the thinking room, and I search for an answer in the "position statements" disgorged by past councils: Maybe he can translate. Nez wants to talk on the patio overlooking a patch of lawn that seems much too lush for the high desert. The grass thrives courtesy of a neighboring farmer who lets Nesmith's groundskeeper draw sprinkling water from a nearby irrigation canal. It doesn't take a MacArthur grant to wonder why Nez's global concerns don't extend to water conservation, but that's probably dissecting too much.

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For now, Nesmith sits in a green chair, clean-shaven and Buddha-bellied, red-framed eyeglasses propped above his forehead. Kennedy joins us with the couple's panting German shorthairs, Roy and Lily. No small talk, and I can't sit in the council room.

Nobody from the outside can, not even Nesmith. And I can use The Chair: In fact, Nez tells me, someone must sit in The Chair at all times so he or she can hear if a brain needs anything: Shifts are limited to 20 minutes. The Chair raises its own set of questions: Why enslave people to a butt-numbing seat rotation over a day and a half? What's wrong with an intercom, or with letting the brains stick their heads out and holler?

But Nesmith is paces ahead of me already, talking about the five thinkers and the need to protect them from distractions. Because there's a go here that they'll go It would be an extraordinary moment," he says, as if he's seeing film clips in his head.

And we all sat there and looked and said, 'My gosh, that's it! We as a people have to get busy and think about this! It's probably not going to happen at Macworld or at the Supreme Court," he says.

When he pauses, I hear the crunch-crunch of either Roy or Lily ecstatically gnawing a chew toy. A network has been created.

Nesmith manages to refrain from rolling his eyes. There's one class of thinker, he explains, who believes an idea has little value "unless you take it and actually go do something - build a building, make a car, invade Poland.