"Earlier this year, the surviving members of the Grateful Dead played sold-out 'Fare Thee Well' concerts in Santa Clara and Chicago to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of their band," says Ben Mark of Collectors Weekly. "But Jerry Garcia and company did not start using the name Grateful Dead until December of 1965. The exact date is surprisingly hard to pin down, as my story for Collectors Weekly reveals, but we do know that the Grateful Dead's sound grew out of its experiences as the house band at the Acid Tests of 1965 and 1966, which were organized (if that's even the right word...) by Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. And where did Kesey get the idea to conduct experiments on human beings with LSD? In 1959, he was an LSD guinea pig himself in tests conducted by the CIA.
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For Garcia, the ability of the Acid Tests to stop the world for a while and then remind you that it was still spinning was one of its key lessons. The Acid Tests, he says in Signpost, were “our first exposure to formlessness. Formlessness and chaos lead to new forms. And new order. Closer to, probably, what the real order is. When you break down the old orders and the old forms and leave them broken and shattered, you suddenly find yourself a new space with new form and new order which are more like the way it is. More like the flow.”
To put Garcia’s formulation in terms a contemporary Silicon Valley venture capitalist might understand, LSD was a disruptive technology, except that instead of upending mere transactions such as hailing a cab or renting a hotel room, the things being disrupted were the basic conventions of society, which is why mainstream America was, and remains, so terrified of the drug.
Five scenes from "LSD: The Opera" performed at Los Angeles's REDCAT last month. It ain't over 'til Tim Leary sings? Read the rest
Freak out on this classic 1970s exposé about the CIA's Project MKUltra 1950s LSD mind control experiments: "Mission Mind Control (ABC Closeup 1979)" Read the rest
Who knew caffeine, aspirin, and LSD were so darn beautiful up close?
In honor of the World Series (Go Giants!), a repost of this classic animation of the great Pittsburgh Pirates player Dock Ellis telling how in 1970 he pitched a no-hitter while tripping balls on LSD. Directed by James Blagden and Chris Isenberg. Read the rest
Above, video evidence of my short presentation "Just Say Know: A Cyberdelic History of the Future" at the recent Lift Conference 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland. Albert Hoffman first synthesized LSD in 1938 in Switzerland so this felt like the right set and setting to share stories about the intersection of psychedelic culture and computer technology from the 1960s to the present and beyond! Read the rest
"The first controlled LSD study in more than 40 years was released today in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease
... The most common adverse events experienced by participants included: feeling cold, feeling abnormal, illusion, gait disturbance, and anxiety. However, participants experienced more anxiety with the placebo than with the LSD, which reinforces the idea that simply knowing one is taking the psychedelic drug can produce a negative psychological reaction." - Motherboard Read the rest
Marvel at this table-of-contents of a recent issue of Oklahoma's "This Land" broadsheet and then get to reading
WINTER’S CHILL: An Anaheim greaser planted Oklahoma’s psychedelic roots, a trip that died when the wind changed after the Summer of Love. By Brian Ted Jones.
SUBTERRANEAN PSYCHONAUT BLUES: A journey into a psychedelic underworld where secret agents, secretive chemists and secret sects collide to create one of Oklahoma’s most controversial crime stories. By Michael Mason, Chris Sandel, and Lee Roy Chapman. (PLUS: Unusual Analogues: Drugs Used by Gordon Todd Skinner)
DR. JOLLY AND THE PSYCHEDELIC PACHYDERM: Hypothesis and results from when an OU researcher injected a bull elephant with what turned out to be a lethal dose LSD. By Steve Sherman.
"Acid, Agents, Prisoners, and a Zoo" (This Land Press) (via Erik Davis)
Cover illustration by David Wagoner.
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What an utterly fantastic cover for the July 1967 issue of Front Page Detective magazine, up for auction on eBay. Read the rest
It's drug week at Popular Science and Shaunacy Ferro would like you to know why doctors can't give you LSD — and why they maybe ought to be
. Read the rest
The above 1966 Acid Test Diploma of Merry Prankster and Jerry Garcia's former wife Carolyn "Mountain Girl" Garcia is up for auction as part of The HeART of Rock and Roll Poster Auction. Current bid is $5,775. Over at Collectors Weekly, our pal Ben Marks puts this tattered piece of paper in context as a souvenir of a milestone event in psychedelic, counterculture , and multimedia history. "The High Price of a Degree in LSD" Read the rest
Illustration: Jonathan Castro, for The Heretic
A wonderful long-read at The Morning News by Tim Doody, on 1966 LSD studies that took place as the US government's position on acid research shifted from "sure, go ahead, scientists" to "nope, this is now banned." The series of tests described in the article took place at the International Foundation for Advanced Study (IFAS) in Menlo Park, CA. Scientists from Stanford, Hewlett-Packard, and elsewhere participated. The volunteers each brought "three highly technical problems from their respective fields that they’d been unable to solve for at least several months." They took "a relatively low dose of acid," 100 micrograms, to enhance their creativity.
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says, "Apparently [recently-departed] Sherman Hemsley was a serious acid/psych-rock fiend and had an LSD lab in his basement." From an interview with Daevid Allen of Soft Machine and Gong, which appeared in Magnet
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“It was 1978 or 1979, and Sherman Hemsley kept ringing me up. I didn’t know him from a bar of soap because we didn’t have television in Spain (where I was living). He called me from Hollywood saying, ‘I’m one of your biggest fans and I’m going to fly you here and put flying teapots all up and down the Sunset Strip.’ I thought, ‘This guy is a lunatic.’ He kept it up so I said, ‘Listen, can you get us tickets to L.A. via Jamaica? I want to go there to make a reggae track and have a honeymoon with my new girlfriend.’ He said, ‘Sure! I’ll get you two tickets.’
I thought, ‘Well, even if he’s a nut case at least he’s coming up with the goodies.’ The tickets arrived and we had this great honeymoon in Jamaica. Then we caught the plane across to L.A. We had heard Sherman was a big star, but we didn’t know the details. Coming down the corridor from the plane, I see this black guy with a whole bunch of people running after him trying to get autographs. Anyway, we get into this stretch limousine with Sherman and immediately there’s a big joint being passed around. I say, ‘Sorry man, I don’t smoke.’ Sherman says, ‘You don’t smoke and you’re from Gong?’
Inside the front door of Sherman’s house was a sign saying, ‘Don’t answer the door because it might be the man.’ There were two Puerto Ricans that had a LSD laboratory in his basement, so they were really paranoid.
Two assholes in Georgia dropped some acid, ran naked in the streets, and dosed their pet dachsund "Oscar" (at left), who they'd just picked up only days earlier from a Georgia animal shelter. The disoriented and dosed doggie wandered into traffic and was struck dead by a car. I'm all for consenting adults having whatever fun they want with substances, but this is just awful. (source: TSG) Read the rest