A Tale of Voluminous Alcohol Consumption, More Psychedelics, Heady Books and the Search for the Highest Consciousness Imagineable
Cream on Acid
No this is not a recipe. I am commenting on a concert that I attended during which I first experienced the full breadth of the psychedelic culture at the time. l went to see the rock and roll super group Cream in San Francisco when I was in high school. This was my favorite band back then. I admired Eric Clapton's guitar work and the song "Sunshine of Your Love" was climbing the charts. You can hear that original performance at the link below. But don't forget to come back to this exciting page. Cream Live at the Filmore
The whole trip to San Francisco in my '59 Impala, metal flake emerald green with black tuck-and-roll interior and a boss sound system (8 Track?) had a subversive and dangerous tone about it. We brought a gallon of Gallo wine to pass around as we drove. We also passed other things around that brought up the frequency in that Chevy Impala. By the time we got there we were pretty toasted, except for me. As the driver I remained sober for the trip. We arrived and hung around outside the venue with a crowd of hippies sporting our costumes and scoring drugs of the various types for about an hour before we went in.
I was pleased and surprised to see so many of my peers who were participating in this movement. Lots of paisley there. Lots of bell bottoms. A nice familial feel to the scene. Later I would see many of my favorite acts at the Fillmore and Winterland including Pink Floyd and others. This is that touchstone to psychedelic culture that I am always looking for and finding.
Seventies Warm Up
In the very late 60's I entered The Fear and Ecstasy Period. I was constantly moving from fear to ecstasy and back to fear again. For many of us guys, the war in Vietnam was a major concern. We could be drafted at any time. That fear contributed to the need to consume massive amounts of alcohol and other drugs, mainly the psychedelics, but also cross-tops (amphetamine), hash, and so on, which I did, to pretend the fear away. Then one had to stay in college and do well, well enough to not get expelled. Bad grades meant no deferment and a free trip to the jungle. The sequence:
I studied sociology and psychology at the local college, feeling I could transfer to a University of California campus later. While there I made candles and sold them. (Yes, I really did) I fashioned Rennaissance boots out of leather and sold them. (Again, yes it's true. Does that make me a douche nozzle?) I bought a pound of Acapulco Gold to sell to my friends, but ended up smoking it by myself and with friends. Very common back then. At least that's what my friends would tell me. Then, shortly after I graduated from the Community
College it burned down under mysterious circumstances. The rumor was revolutionaries did it. Time to move on to a less volatile environment, I said to myself.
I got accepted at Berkeley and drove there to check it out a couple of weeks early. The school was locked down with protesters everywhere and helicopters overhead dropping tear gas cannisters onto the kids. (The Fear Part I mentioned earlier) Fortunately, I also applied to and was accepted at my second choice, Sonoma State College, specifically an experimental project titled The Cluster School of Expressive Arts. So I went there. Boy what a contrast. (The Ecstasy Part) Pastoral setting. Laid back professors. Turned on students. No helicopters.
Funky Chicken Ranch
For that year I lived on a cute little property with an apple orchard and a stream running through it. We called it The Funky Chicken Ranch. You can read more about it here Momentary Awakenings
I didn't do well academically because of a Boones Farm Apple Wine obsession. Also, the quality of the drugs there was extremely high, and so was I. This may have contributed to an accident in the apple orchard when I ran myself and my little tractor into a tree and injured my leg. So I spent my 21st Birthday in the local hospital getting fixxed up and recuperating. The demerol there was excellent and my ranch roommates, a Jewish couple from Orange County CA, snuck in an extremely potent pot cake for my birthday. That night I watched The Point on the TV in my room in a highly cannabinopiated state. You can see/hear it here. (NO, not my altered State, The Point. Try to pay attention, will you?)
The Take Away
During my stay at the experimental school I did manage to absorb some helpful info that I use to this day. We did not know it at the time but we were at the epicenter of the Humanistic Psychology Movement. At the school we were excited to read the new material coming from our leaders in the field: Maslow, Perls, Watts, Laing and others. This was not Freud this was alternative psychology to serve human beings rather than theorists. Thirty years later I would complete my studies in the field. I'm a slow learner. (Go ahead, say it.)
Finally of Age
I got a high number in the Draft Lottery so I was not going to Nam any time soon. And at 21 I was free to drink in bars. This was a big step up from drinking everywhere else you could possibly imagine. I scored a quantity of mescaline sulphate (rare and expensive) from a sailor - Vallejo used to be a submarine base - I met at a bar where I drew psychedelic murals on the walls for beer. (I know!) He brought it over from Germany and felt it was his mission to turn-on the people of Vallejo. I cut it with milk sugar and packaged it in horsecaps. Putting that stuff into those little caps was a real vision quest. (Here's some advice if you want to try it. Don't lick your fingers. Like I did.) You could call this The Speaking in Tongues Period. Again, I didn't actually sell any but I did turn on a lot of happy bar patrons/freinds/strangers.
More Bar Fun
One time in a bar in Ensenada Mexico during what I call the Pre-spiral period - you can read about the Downward Spiral Period next Episode - me and my friends are sitting at a table having some beers and a guy with no legs comes in on a skate board. He pushes himself up to the edge of the stage and adroitly flips his body up and onto the platform to our drunken applause. He gestured to me to come on stage and join him. I complied. I was processing several different substances ON TOP of the Mexican beer, so I was feeling experimental.
He gestured to me to lay down on the stage floor which I did. Then he pantomimed to me and the audience what he had in mind. Apparently he was going to grab both of my outstretched hands with his outstreched hands and flip himself up over the top of me and balance himself above me. Before I could agree he grabbed both of my hands and flipped his torso straight up in the air and balanced on my hands.
But I couldn't hold him. He was a burly guy, probably weighed 100 pounds or so. (OK OK maybe not 100 pounds but 60 pounds fer sure.) I struggled for a few seconds to keep from dropping him as my elbows began to give way. He looked down at me with terror in his eyes and shouted, "No no no!" My friends were shouting "Go Mark! Go Mark!"
And with a tremendous burst of strength and energy (I was younger then) I slowly and with effort secured my grip on this guy's hands, straightened my arms out and balanced him fully up above me for about 5 seconds. He smiled at me from above. I think I even felt a tear of joy fall onto my face from his. He flipped himself off of me and onto the stage. He hopped onto his skateboard, saluted me and scooted out the door to more applause from the audience.
Needless to say, that success was a sign that I should continue to drink. So I did.
Tune in next month for another catchy Episode of the Seth Returns Back Story!