When I told my mother about taking LSD, she was quite concerned
BY PAUL KRASSNER
Tuesday August 18, 2009
I took my first acid trip in 1965 at Tim Leary's LSD research center
in Millbrook, N.Y. He was supposed to be my guide, but he had gone
off to India. Ram Dass (then Richard Alpert) was supposed to take his
place, but he was involved in preparing to open at the Village
Vanguard as a psychedelic comedian-philosopher. So my guide was
Michael Hollingshead, the British rascal who had originally turned Leary on.
When I told my mother about taking LSD, she was quite concerned.
"It could lead to marijuana," she warned.
Meanwhile, a whole new generation of pioneers was traveling westward,
without killing a single Indian along the way. San Francisco became
the focus of this pilgrimage. On Haight Street, runaway youngsters
refugees from their own families stood outside a special tour bus
guided by a driver "trained in sociological significance."
On the day that LSD became illegal Oct. 6, 1966 at precisely two
o'clock in the afternoon, a cross-fertilization of mass protest and
tribal celebration took place, as several hundred explorers of inner
space simultaneously swallowed tabs of acid while the police stood by
Internal possession wasn't against the law.
On another occasion, folks from all over the Bay Area were ingesting
LSD in preparation for the Acid Test at Longshoreman's Hall,
organized by Ken Kesey and his Band of Merry Pranksters. The ballroom
was seething with celebration, thousands of bodies stoned out of
their minds, undulating to rock bands amid balloons and streamers and
beads, with a thunder machine and strobe lights flashing, so that
even the Pinkerton guards were high by contact. Kesey asked me to
take the microphone and contribute a running commentary on the scene.
"All I know," I began, "is that if I were a cop and I came in here, I
wouldn't know where to begin...."
My next stop was determined by a press release from the campaign
headquarters of Robert Scheer, a Democrat who was running for
Congress in Oakland: "Usually informed sources reported today that an
outlawed left-wing psychedelic splinter within the Scheer campaign
will caucus with Paul Krassner at 2 a.m. Saturday night, at the
Jabberwock. These authoritative sources reported that Krassner, who
has just returned from Washington, will deliver a preview of the
State of the Union Message for 1966."
Although decriminalization of marijuana was one of Scheer's platform
planks, he admitted to the audience that he wouldn't smoke pot
himself as long as it was illegal. I in turn announced that I
wouldn't stop smoking pot until it was legal. The previous year,
before I emceed a teach-in at the Berkeley campus, Stew Albert of the
Vietnam Day Committee had introduced me to Thai stick, and I became a
"Now I know why there's a war going on in Southeast Asia," I
observed. "To protect the crops."
That simple quote was enough to land my picture on the cover of the
Berkeley Barb, smoking a joint. But my mother was right. LSD did lead
to marijuana. *
Paul Krassner was the founder of The Realist (an alternative press
prototype), is the author of Who's to Say What's Obscene: Politics,
Culture and Comedy in America Today and In Praise of Indecency:
Dispatches From the Valley of Porn, and is a monthly columnist for SF
Carnal Nation (sf.carnalnation.com)