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Oct 26 2012

Your Friday MONDO: Brain Nuggets From High Frontiers #4 – 1988 (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #36)

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And more pull quotes, from High Frontiers   issue #4.

 

The biggest threat to the status quo worldwide is that the new species will recognize itself.  R.U. Sirius

 

…is anyone currently trying to duplicate those now lost, but now forgotten, experiments from the 1950s that gave the world that marvelous substance, FLUBBER?   Letters to the Editor

 

We are discovering that there is an angel within the monkey.   Terence McKenna

 

It seems unintelligent to base the important question of whether a machine is conscious or not on human gullibility.   Nick Herbert

 

…it was a holistic blender drink, a Synaesthetic Slurpee…   Morgan Russell

What a set of frontal lobes!  I’d like to slide between those hemispheres.   Morgan Russell

…satin-trousered temptresses lazing on divans, wearing dark glasses, sipping hummingbird nectar from diamond demitasses.  Morgan Russell

 

I would operate under about 30 different names. I’d try to maneuver people into calling me by name so I’d know who I was.   Captain Clearlight

I was thinking, “…if they’ve got uniforms, they’ve probably got guns.  They’re just waiting to have me on toast.”   Captain Clearlight

 

The CIA was like an unwitting midwife in the birth of the acid generation.  Martin Lee

…everyone knows the Nazis were into the occult. There are rumors that Hitler experimented with peyote.    Martin Lee

When you come right down to it, the CIA is a secret society.   Martin Lee

 

The future according to rock and roll is a no-tilt, ten-ball, bumper-pounding orgasm.   Alex Cain

 

I feel as though I’m sort of a graduate of my own elevator in my own mind hotel.  Mike D

 

 

 

People will vote with their money for the kind of personal quantum “knowledge appliances” they want.  Timothy Leary

 

Oct 12 2012

Your Friday MONDO: Nuggets — Pull Quotes from High Frontiers Issue #2 (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #34)

 

More nuggets from High Frontiers for your weekend pleasure

 

 The hydrogen bomb (was) the flash of the first synapse of an etheric brain which is extended temporally as well as spatially   Robin Hoor Khuit

 

Everyone was looking at Ram Dass like he must be the Magus riding out of the north.  Peter Stafford

 

Learn how to control your own nervous system and the whole universe is yours… that’s the transmutation the alchemists were working for.  Robert Anton Wilson

 

There are about six different realities that Bell’s Theorem makes possible, none of them are ordinary. They’re all preposterous… Nick Herbert

 

Joyce, Guernica, Auschwitz, lunar landings, nuclear weapons, psychedelic religion, and computer networking — markers on a path that may eventually carry us toward… functional anarchy  Terence McKenna

 

When you take MDA and LSD simultaneously, you get a sort of matrix multiplication effect where you can observe yourself in all possible  incarnations. Zarkov

 

[With the Brotherhood of Eternal Love] It was a religious zeal that life is better suited to being high.  Michael Hollingshead

 

Revolution and evolution, they’re both a process. A revolution never  ends; or once a  revolution ends, it’s  probably a dictatorship…  Paul Krassner

 

I realized that I was seeing “god central.” The central panel I saw was the control panel of the entire universe.   Zarkov

 

There was a giant punk goddess with a green mohawk and full body armor  screaming, “is it finally strong enough for you?” Terence McKenna

 

Magnificent extragalactic trisexual desires multiple sex with all creatures any time/any space. Non-smokers only. No weirdoes.  Amalgam X

 

Jul 27 2012

Robespierre Overthrown!

Yes, 218 years ago today, Maximilien Robespierre was overthrown and, the following day, lost his head.  And so, in memoriam, and for your weekend amusement, I give you a scene from Peter Weiss’s Marat/Sade, which I stumbled upon and watched on PBS in 1969, at age 16, after watching Richard Nixon defend the Vietnam War, while high on 200 mics of LSD.  So, as you might imagine, it made an impression.

 

Jun 28 2012

NeoPsychedelia & High Frontiers: Memes Leading To MONDO 2000 (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #21)

 

“The rising popularity of MDMA and other designer psychedelics. The developing scene around intelligence drugs and nutrients. The psychedelic roots of Apple computers.  The psychedelic garage rock phenomena that was mostly focused in L.A.  Even recent releases by Prince and Talking Heads…”

Yet another excerpt from the upcoming book, Use Your Hallucinations: Mondo 2000 in the Late 20th Century Cyberculture.

R.U. Sirius (early 1985:  I had come to San Francisco to start the neopsychedelic movement. And even before the first issue of High Frontiers went to press, I heard that there was a new psychedelic rock movement afoot. Some bands were emulating the style of ‘60s garage psychedelia — stuff like The Seeds, 13th Floor Elevator, Blues Magoos, Electric Prunes.  The beginnings of this scene had been labeled “the Paisley Underground.” I read that an L.A. band called The Three O’Clock was sort of rising to the top of the scene so I bought their record, disliked it, and gave it a bad review in that first issue — comparing it unfavorably to what I considered smart psychedelic music — stuff you’d actually want to listen to while tripping like Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy by Brian Eno or The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein by Parliament Funkadelic.  Not that I was averse to… if you will… exploiting every pop cultural indicator of the coming of neopsychedelia in my quest.

And, with the release of issue #2 of High Frontiers, we had a calling card worthy of some media attention. We (mostly Lord Nose and myself) started promoting the idea that there was a “neopsychedelic” resurgence going on.  Several journalists and media outlets took the bait.

We (well, mostly me) gave them a kitchen sink of evidence that something novel was afoot. The rising popularity of MDMA and other designer psychedelics. The developing scene around intelligence drugs and nutrients. The psychedelic roots of Apple computers.  The psychedelic garage rock phenomena that was mostly focused in L.A.  Even recent releases by Prince and Talking Heads; a sudden plethora of trippy MTV videos; and the playful, upbeat, sci fi, expansive themes running through the new wave radio stations from bands like the B52s and The Thompson Twins (Yes, I would even employ such dribble as the Thompson Twins in my plot for world mutation), we told them, indicated a developing shift in the zeitgeist.  Lord Nose would add a note of earnest shamanic gravitas to my pop culture spinnings and, all together, it worked.

We got coverage in San Francisco’s leftist weekly, Bay Guardian and an article by Laura Frasier for the wire service PNS wound up in several daily papers, including Long Island’s main outlet, Newsday (Laura would become a friend and, for a while, Lord Nose’s lover).  There were even still more outlets, long forgotten.  It was our first small flurry.  The viral meme, “neopsychedelia,” was injected into the body politic.

We decided to throw a giant party for the issue and the new psychedelia in San Francisco.   Tongue firmly piercing cheek, Lord Nose came up with the idea to call it the Neopsychedelic Cotillion Ball.  No doubt, he was having a bit of a giggle at the expense of Alison’s upper crust breeding and quasi-Victorian stylings — as she was replacing Mau Mau as the third dominant figure in our little karass and — at the same time — playing with Ken Kesey’s famous “Acid Test Graduation Party” that had spelled the end of the Merry Prankster era.  We secured this wonderful large venue called “The Farm” and started contacting bands and speakers to see who would appear… for free…

Somerset Mau Mau: I didn’t have much to do with that.

R.U. Sirius: Mau Mau and X knocked on the door at Alison’s house one day to complain about the naming of the Neopsychedelic Cotillion.  They said it was alienating to acid veterans in the Haight and hardcore street mutants in general . It sounded too bourgeois.  I found that bizarre, given that these guys over in Marin were even more relentlessly absurdist than we were, that they would have taken the title sort of literally.

 

We got an incredibly positive response when we asked people to perform for us.  We had 5 or 6 popular local bands, including The Morlocks, who were the kings of the local garage psych thing. They were like 10 years old (Ok, maybe like 19). .  And we set up panels on quantum physics and psychedelic drugs and maybe a few other things.  Wavy Gravy agreed to MC.  The freakin’ voice of Woodstock for our neopsychedelic rally!

Lord Nose and I went to see Wavy at his famous Hog Farm house in Berkeley to ask him to MC. It was the first time I’d ever been there.  He had the Big Pink cover on his bedroom door.  His bedroom door was kind of a collage of all sorts of memorabilia of the counterculture and the Grateful Dead, but that 11” x 17” thing dominated.  (When I saw him a few years ago, he told me it was still there.)

About a week before the event, I was invited to appear on the Michael Krasny Show on KGO. Two hours long, on Sunday night, it was the Bay Area’s biggest talk radio show and I was going to be the only guest.  I woke up that morning with a monstrous cold — cough, fever, the whole package. Early that evening, I downed a triple dose of cough medicine and hit the BART from Berkeley to downtown San Francisco.  This was before I was familiar with the effects of Dextromethorphan; a hallucinatory dissociative that’s in many commercial cough medications.  By the time I exited the BART, I was cross-eyed and painless; relaxed and floating; and my mind was… lucid — full of thoughts and quips about neopsychedelia and the magazine and the oncoming event.

I was damn good, if I do say so… quick, self-amused (this annoying tendency actually tends to come off well on radio), and perhaps a bit too fearless.  Krasny seemed to enjoy bantering with me about the perceived dangers of mass psychedelic use versus the wonders of a psychedelic movement and about politics and culture and whatever came up.  My tongue and brain were loose and careless.

Then the phone lines opened up to callers.  In between calls from people asking for drug advice and wanting to know details about the magazine and upcoming party, there were numerous angry calls from people upset that Krasny would even have this glib freak on his esteemed show advocating for psychedelic drugs and displaying bad attitude towards God, Mom, Apple Pie, and Patriotism (or whatever the hell I spoke about in my ripped and fevered mental state).  Finally, just a few minutes before the show’s end, a man with a deep angry voice thundered across the airwaves, “Tell that asshole we’re gonna kill ‘im.  We’re gonna shoot ‘im.”  Krasny fell into a rage.  “Nobody makes death threats on my show!  I’ve never had a death threat on my show!”

Exiting the station to make the 4 block walk back to the BART, I was a bit less fearless, but, as I remember it, there weren’t even any cars rolling past as I made my way.  And, anyway, on the radio, no one can tell what you look like.  (And they couldn’t Google you yet.)

When I got back to her place, Alison exclaimed: “That was incredible!”  It was the first time she’d been thrilled by one of my public appearances; in fact, up until that point, I think she had her doubts about my mental dexterity.  (Those doubts would occasionally reoccur, maybe deservedly so.) Anyway, that’s how I know that the whole thing didn’t just seem good to me because the Dextro was flooding my brain with Serotonin.

I was stunned the following Saturday as hundreds of  paying customers — most of them young — flooded into The Farm for the event.

It was an incredible venue; large, with an upstairs section.

Scrappi DuChamp:  I went to that. I was really fascinated by the place… It was an animal auction house… it was like an auction for slaughter, basically, of livestock, run by hippies. I thought that was pretty amazing. It was under a freeway or past a really old part of San Francisco that was still sort of undeveloped.

R.U. Sirius:  Wavy was on and enthusiastic.  The psychedelic drugs panel was colorful, as Zarkov, the libertarian investment banker, appearing in a dramatic disguise, denounced his fellow panelists for trying to get psychedelics sanctioned by the government for the exclusive use of psychotherapists.  And we quietly passed out capsules with threshold doses of the still legal designer hallucinogen 2cb, which definitely added a cheerful intelligence and intensity to the affair…

 

…  R.U. Sirius: The “Neopsychedelic renaissance” continued apace, with major features in High Times and other long forgotten zines, radio interviews and so on —with High Frontiers often touted as the reigning representation.  It seemed that I was blabbing to someone in the media about it at least a couple of times a month.  Soon word hit us that people on the L.A. garage psychedelia scene were being drenched in high quality LSD and were diggin’ on High Frontiers. Greg Shaw’s Bomp Magazine was at the center of that scene and he sent us his back issues (which we were already buying, anyway) and suggested we come for a visit. Jeff Mark and I arranged to go down there.

Jeff Mark: Winter Solstice 1985, R.U. and I took a trip to Los Angeles. The “Neopsychedelic Revival” was by then a real phenomenon. Tom Petty had released “Don’t Come Around Here No More”, including the Alice-in-Wonderland video — videos themselves were still new then, recall. Newsweek had even done a feature piece on the L.A. manifestation, focusing on Greg Shaw who was putting together some L.A. neopsychedelic ‘zine. R.U.’s intention was to make contact and build a bridge; the Pranksters’ visit to Millbrook, no doubt, in the back of his mind.

So we hung out for a while with Greg. I think we did a little sightseeing, and then that night we went to see some bands being promoted by him. The space the bands would play in, around the corner from Hollywood & Vine… well, you can’t call it a club. It wasn’t that, it was just… a room. The entrance was at the top of an external staircase, from which I could see underneath the building, noting with some trepidation that the second floor was supported by a bunch of those steel jacks that builders use to keep a weak ceiling from collapsing. And this would be holding up a couple of hundred dancing humans. I think this might even have qualified as an early form of rave, had that term yet been coined.

There were maybe four or five different bands, each doing 30-45 minutes or so, and the first thing I noticed was that, in keeping with the whole “Neo-Psychedelic Revival” thing, each of them did a version of “White Rabbit”. OK, that’s an exaggeration; one of them didn’t. The next thing I noticed was that the bands each seemed to be made up of the same seven or eight people in varying combinations of four or five.

So, anyway, the building didn’t collapse, and we retired after to some other location lost to history for a party. Everyone was high on MDMA, of course. As the evening progressed, I engaged in conversation with several very nice people, and by way of introducing each other, the usual “so what do you do?” kinds of questions arose. Now, I had a straight job at the time, civil service, thoroughly boring. But the people I spoke with described themselves as “make-up artists” or “costumers” or writers or artists of one flavor or another. I began to realize that vocationally, each of these people depended on all the others, networking (another not-yet-coined-term) to get to work on someone’s project about something; their livelihood depended on their social contacts.

Now, when you think about it, this was Hollywood; that’s how Hollywood works, that’s how creative communities, particularly those in collaborative crafts, operate. That’s how they produce. Obvious to many, but news to me. The pattern-recognition subsystems of my mind began to assemble what I would come to call my “Theory of Scenes”.

A few months later we returned, with Lord Nose, to participate in this event that featured a couple of local bands, and somebody wheeling out Sky Saxon  from the Seeds (“Pushing Too Hard”).

Nose was showcasing these black t-shirts with the yellow day-glo anti-happy face or whatever the fuck that was (I still have mine, but it no longer fits…) (ed: Sacred Cow Mutilators t-shirt). And it struck me that the 200 or so people at that event, which included almost everyone we’d met in December, comprised the whole of the “neopsychedelic scene” in L.A. That was it. That was all of them. 250 people tops, and they were getting all this media attention. And I realized that’s how it probably was in ’65, as well; there was the Whiskey á Go-Go scene, one or two other places; a dozen or so bands with some duplication among their personnel, various friends and hangers-on. In the Haight, the same thing. There was the Fillmore, and the Matrix, the Diggers, the Oracle, and it was all the same… what, 300 people? It applies elsewhere also. There’s the NYC comedy scene (which in the 70s gave us SNL, and is now focused around The Daily Show), the Boston Harvard/National Lampoon scene, the L.A. Conception Corporation scene (whence came Spinal Tap). All of these basically, at least in the beginning, were not much more than groups of friends. Even in politics. One of my disappointments as I’ve gotten more sophisticated about politics is the realization that so much of what happens in a place like Washington D.C. takes place in what appears, anyway, to be a social environment, which is why it reminds us so much of high school. And this was, largely, how “Mondo” functioned within the context of the Berkeley New Age “Scene”.

R.U. Sirius:  Greg Shaw and this guy from a band called Dead Hippie volunteered to throw a High Frontiers party in L.A. so we went back down there a few months later.  The Dead Hippie guy was intense. He had sort of a Charlie Manson look and a stare to match and seemed to be searching for some sort of gut wrenching apocalyptic truth. Other that that, he was nice. We hung out for a while as the party was being set up until it became clear that we had no responsibilities other than to man our booth, sell magazines and t-shirts and take home some money.

One peculiar memory: we split for a while for dinner and drinks and somehow struck up a conversation with this crewcut military-looking young dude.  When we told him what we were in town for, he tried to convince us to ditch the benefit show because it would be more interesting to drop acid and play paintball at some arena a few miles away.  It was his favorite thing.

As with the “Cotilllion,” the L.A. High Frontiers benefit was massive, with bands like Thelonious Monster (I was already a fan) and members of Black Flag who were doing this sort of metal psych as a side project. Sky Saxon jumped on stage with everybody.  This being L.A., everybody looked perfect, particularly the young girls in their tight short skirts.  After hours of watching hundreds of these chicks stream though, the massive doorman/bouncer finally cried out, “I’ve got a sheet of acid for the first chick who will drain my cock.”  I seem to remember him being approached by a volunteer.

I really didn’t connect with anybody other than one porn star-gorgeous chick I’d met the last time around, and her attention was divided between myself and several others taller, darker and more handsome.  It was a whole different vibe, not only from the San Francisco party but from the previous hangout in L.A., which had more of a gently androgynous fashion-y pop vibe — all retro Nehru shirts and flared striped pants.  Now the scene had become psych metal. They’d gone from Strawberry Alarm Clark to Blue Cheer in a matter of weeks.

 

Previous MONDO History Entries

Psychedelic Transpersonal Photography, High Frontiers & MONDO 2000: an Interview with Marc Franklin

Gibson & Leary Audio (MONDO 2000 History Project)

Pariahs Made Me Do It: The Leary-Wilson-Warhol-Dali Influence (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #3)

Robert Anton Wilson Talks To Reality Hackers Forum (1988 — Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #4)

Smart Drugs & Nutrients In 1991 (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #5)

LSD, The CIA, & The Counterculture Of The 1960s: Martin Lee (1986, Audio. Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #6)

William Burroughs For R.U. Sirius’ New World Disorder (1990, Mondo 2000 History Project Entry # 7)

New Edge & Mondo: A Personal Perspective – Part 1 (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #8)

New Edge & Mondo: A Personal Perspective – Part 2 (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #8)

The Glorious Cyberpunk Handbook Tour (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #9)

Did The CIA Kill JFK Over LSD?, Reproduced Authentic, & Two Heads Talking: David Byrne In Conversation With Timothy Leary (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #10)

Memory & Identity In Relentlessly Fast Forward & Memetically Crowded Times (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #11)

The First Virtual War & Other Smart Bombshells (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #12)

Swashbuckling Around The World With Marvin Minsky In How To Mutate & Take Over The World (MONDO 2000 History Project #13)

FAIL! Debbie Does MONDO (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #14)

Paradise Is Santa Cruz: First Ecstasy (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #15)

William Gibson On MONDO 2000 & 90s Cyberculture (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #16)

Ted Nelson & John Perry Barlow For MONDO 2000 (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #17)

R.U. A Cyberpunk? Well, Punk? R.U.? (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry # 18

The New Edge At The New Age Convention (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #19)

The Belladonna Shaman (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #20)

Jun 25 2012

The Counterculture Is Better In The Suburbs

 

The first time I was ever in San Francisco it blew my mind. It was a city of freethinkers and artists who were “on the level” and “got it.” Sometimes it’s hard for me to accept that I was born in South Florida. The isolation and alienation was so severe that I literally believed I was another species. In San Francisco, there were crazy people everywhere and it was the utopian dream. For several years I was born again. The freaks were everywhere and I united with my people at last.

So what happened? I gradually started to notice that people in the mass counterculture were as blind as “the sheep” only they were conforming to a different set of social norms. I came up with the term anti-sheep-sheep to describe them. I felt myself longing for the initial alienation of identifying as a mutant and feeling like I was the only one. After all, meeting people like you is a lot more exciting when you feel like you are the only one. The people who truly influenced my life were the few counterculture people who I met in South Florida. They were as isolated and alienated as I was. They felt like they were another species too.

I remember how we would have all these exciting discussions. “What are we?” was the question. Everyone seemed to have their own answer. “We are an alien species that has been put here to study the human race.” “We are demons from hell and our job is to eliminate the homo sapien.” It seems quite silly to me now but back then it was my inspiration for creating art. It was my job to become a tribal leader. I was going to give “what are we?” the best answer possible.

One of the kids I remember from South Florida created an entire civilization on paper. Since he did not belong in the world of the suburbs he was intent on creating his own world. He showed me a map of his civilization that consisted of a notebook full of beautiful drawings and cryptic messages. “This is where people like us are from,” he would tell me. His civilization had its own language consisting of symbols that he personally designed. We took acid together and discussed the possibility of replacing their civilization with our own.

I met some others in Miami. Thor was the metalhead philosopher. He carried a scepter, recited street poetry, and ranted about how nothing around us was real. His mission was to show people that they were living in the matrix, by any means necessary. Jackie was the transgender shaman punk who did not belong on this planet. Her goal was simply to return home so she could be among her own kind. “I think you guys are from my planet too,” she once whispered to Thor and I. “But what are we?”

The suburbs were an alienating place but the conversations were the best. It was all about being the few. We had a sacred sense of tribal unity that related to our sheltered and conservative upbringings. We were the ones. In San Francisco people didn’t grow up like us. They didn’t grow up like us in Los Angeles or New York either. In major cities people grew up with the counterculture being a visible part of mainstream culture. They grew up homo sapiens.

I want to make the argument that the counterculture is actually better in the suburbs. The scarcity of artistic and eccentric thought forces people to create their own civilizations. It fosters an intense unity between people who do not fit into the mainstream and creates extreme connections among those on the edge.

In contrast, larger cities force marketers to be “on the edge” so they can appeal to the counterculture demographic. You cannot walk down the street without seeing punks, ravers, goths, or at the very least hipsters. There is an over-the-counterculture element of commercialization that makes being a freethinking mutant another fad. The anti-sheep-sheep run prominent.

If I grew up in San Francisco: surrounded by counterculture models on billboards: always having a record store to hang out in: there is no way I would be the person I am today. Being a natural freethinker I would have rebelled against the dominant liberal culture. I wouldn’t have gotten any tattoos. I wouldn’t have become an alternative musician. I wouldn’t have made my artistic goal to answer the “what are we” question.

People were always shocked when I told them I was from South Florida. I was way too “cool” to be from the suburbs and obviously must have been from New York or LA. When I met other kids from the suburbs we would talk about how much easier it was to meet people like us in these big cities. We shared a deep knowledge about alienation that people from New York and LA simply couldn’t understand.

Big cities are known for their thriving countercultures but I see counterculture at its peak when it is at its most obscure. When there are only 5 other people in your entire city who “get it” you tend to get creative, start a fantastic cult, and plot world domination. It is the sense of alienation that connects people in the suburbs and it is through this alienation that new subcultures, tribes, and species are defined.

Maybe it is better to grow up human. You don’t need to sit alone in your room and wonder why you have been put on the same planet as “the sheep.” You don’t need to cry and scream because everybody around you is stuck in the matrix. You don’t need to be the real life protagonist of the movie “They Live” because nobody will put on their glasses. Still, there is so much that you take for granted because you have been surrounded by counterculture your entire life.

Is big city counterculture actually counterculture? I am not so sure that it is. Listening to GG Allin in New York is great but it does not give you the same rebellious thrill as listening to GG Allin in the suburbs. The more taboo something is the more exciting it becomes. Something cannot, by definition, be both popular and edgy. In South Florida it is edgy to be against war. In San Francisco it is socially enforced to the point of banal conformity.

The counterculture is better in the suburbs. It is through the isolation of “being the only one” that your life changes the moment you meet a brilliant person to make art with. Some of the most eccentric minds in existence are currently stuck in these boring towns of nothing. They have “what are we” conversations until 6 AM and it never gets old. They represent us because the billboards refuse to.

Jun 22 2012

The Belladonna Shaman (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #20)

 

“I vomited some of it, but still managed to keep most of it down. After watching me, the rest of the gang decided to take only half a tablespoon. I learned an invaluable lesson in drug experimentation that would stay with me for life: never go first.”

 

A segment from the MONDO 2000 prehistory part of the upcoming MONDO 2000 History Project Book, Use Your Hallucinations: MONDO 2000 and the Cyberculture of the Late 2oth Century

I consider my second qualification as World Mutant #1 to be my death at 15 from the witchy deliriant Belladonna.

It was early in the summer of 1968. Myself and my friends had heard stories about people taking this drug, Asthamador, that you could buy in the drug store that contained belladonna. Someone described spending the entire night picking bugs off of his skin. Nothing speaks to the weird reality of being fifteen than this fact – we all agreed that this sounded really cool! We decided to get some of this belladonna and take it that Saturday night for the Ronnie Dio (yes, that Ronnie Dio) and the Electric Elves show in downtown Binghamton, New York. Dio was our biggest local star.

The day of the show, bottle of asthmador in my hand, we walked down to the neighborhood store and bought drinks to wash down the medicine. I bought a Coke, and I can’t remember what the other guys bought, but the Coke would turn out to be important. We went into the alley behind the small grocery store where teens sometimes would hang out and smoke cigarettes. Finding it empty, we prepared to take our medicine. None of us really knew anything about dosage, so we just went with what we had, a tablespoon that my friend and upstairs neighbor Dave Waffle had grabbed out of his kitchen. I went first. I gulped down the tablespoon of asthmador, washing it down with the Coke. You do not know the meaning of the word bitter unless you’ve done this. It was like swallowing Satan’s fetid bowels, which should have given me a clue as to the kind of experience that was to follow. I vomited some of it, but still managed to keep most of it down. After watching me, the rest of the gang decided to take only half a tablespoon. I learned an invaluable lesson in drug experimentation that would stay with me for life: never go first.

Once we’d swallowed our poison, we decided to go into the store for some snacks to wash away the taste.  Things seemed pretty normal and I picked out a package of chocolate Hostess cupcakes that used to be so popular – the ones with the white squiggles down the middle. I reached out to grab it off the shelf, but the cupcakes jumped away, eluding my grasp. The little white squiggles had turned into eyes, nose and mouth. The cupcakes laughed at me.

Somehow I made it out of the store. I can remember walking for maybe two blocks, carrying my hippie mocassins. At some point I just winked out. Even today, I still have some sense, or recollection, of what my hallucinations were like – I experienced a flash of recognition a couple of years later. When I saw Munch’s The Scream, it resonated – not just the face and the distortion but the sense that one is surrounded by some unfathomably horrific presence that probably hides an infinity of other unfathomably horrific presences both within and beyond it, endlessly layered. I also remember seeing my father sitting in a chair and smoking his pipe, disappearing slowly from his feet to his head while asking me what was wrong. Two cops found me staggering down Main Street, eyes without irises – just big pools of black. I writhed and struggled and screamed and vomited as the officers tried to restrain me. One cop wanted to take me to jail, but the other one recognized the need to rush me to the hospital and he prevailed.

I entered Our Lady of Lords Hospital wrapped up in a straightjacket and was immediately given a shot of morphine.  Once they got me to stop flailing, they were able to find my wallet. They pulled it out to see who I was.  In those far less paranoid times, teenagers didn’t necessarily carry ID cards. But my friend Vinnie had found these sort-of IDs that had a space on them to write your name and address and phone number and we’d had some fun one night writing the names of our heroes, or of odd characters, onto the cards and sticking them in our wallets.  I had two cards on which I had written two different names.  Since the admission authorities knew I wasn’t Ho Chi Minh, they figured the other ID must be the correct one. I was admitted as Frank Zappa.

It took a few hours for the doctors to make their diagnosis – atropine poisoning potentiated by Coca Cola (which apparently potentiates the atropine several times over). Meanwhile, the rest of the gang made it to the Ronnie Dio show, but Dave Waffle never got to see the big finale.  At some point in the show, he hallucinated that he was back home but that the song on the radio really sucked.  Irritated, he walked to the radio and started twisting the dial which, unfortunately, was some girl’s knee (okay, it could have been worse.)  He was dragged out of the hall and thrown into the street.

Fortunately, a friend of his older brother saw that Waffle was out of control and decided to drive him home.  Once home, Waffle managed to make it up to his own house, but he went into his mother Gloria’s bedroom and started taking off his clothes.  She screamed at him but he thought it was another friend, Rob, yelling at him to open up the window to talk.  Waffle leaned out the window holding a conversation with the imaginary Rob while his mom called an ambulance.

The arrival of the ambulance got the attention of my parents. Gloria shouted something about an LSD overdose and as Waffle was rushed to the emergency room, my father thought to call and check regarding any other LSD overdoses. “No. No LSD overdoses,” a nurse reported. A few hours later, when it was well past curfew and I still hadn’t returned home, my father called again and the dots were connected.  Frank Zappa, who was in the emergency room after having his stomach pumped, had little chance of survival.

I woke up 36 hours later, looked up at the ceiling, noticed the blurry versions of my older brothers who were standing by the side of the bed. I asked them why they’d taken down the poster of Stokely Carmichael that I kept on my ceiling.   A cheer went up and one of them rushed into the waiting room to tell my mom and dad that I was still alive.

I remained in the hospital for about a week. (Those were the days, huh?) And while my first hallucinatory trip had not produced much insight, I learned that, throughout my coma, I had been waited on and mourned by crowds of crying teenage girls, some of whom had to be forced out of the waiting room when visiting hours were over. So I did learn that girls liked me – although I was still too goofy to take full advantage of the situation.

And was I full of contrition?  Were we contrite?  No, we were incorrigible.  Vinnie showed up at the hospital and left behind a cake that had some weak and improperly prepared marijuana baked into it. It was inactive, but hey, it’s the thought that counts. And when Mark Perone, my 14-year-old hoodlum rock guitarist neighbor left me a pack of firecrackers, I got a hold of some matches, opened the bathroom window and, lighting them one at a time, tossed them outside, until a nurse finally came running in.  Exasperated, she asked me why I wanted to make more trouble.  I didn’t, I told her.  I just didn’t want the firecrackers to go to waste.  All American teen logic at its finest.

When I’m feeling mystical, I start to think that I journeyed to a rare underworld and it was some sort of shamanic initiation. I emerged as a zeitgeist savant with a few neural circuits directly hooked into the dark matter of the universe. I’m intimate with emptiness in a very profound and scary sense — I’ll say that. But I have the decency not to impose it on anyone else.  Still, I’ll claim this as an initiatory rite qualifying me as the man who will bring about der final solution to der  human banality problem…

 

Previous MONDO History Entries

Psychedelic Transpersonal Photography, High Frontiers & MONDO 2000: an Interview with Marc Franklin

Gibson & Leary Audio (MONDO 2000 History Project)

Pariahs Made Me Do It: The Leary-Wilson-Warhol-Dali Influence (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #3)

Robert Anton Wilson Talks To Reality Hackers Forum (1988 — Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #4)

Smart Drugs & Nutrients In 1991 (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #5)

LSD, The CIA, & The Counterculture Of The 1960s: Martin Lee (1986, Audio. Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #6)

William Burroughs For R.U. Sirius’ New World Disorder (1990, Mondo 2000 History Project Entry # 7)

New Edge & Mondo: A Personal Perspective – Part 1 (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #8)

New Edge & Mondo: A Personal Perspective – Part 2 (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #8)

The Glorious Cyberpunk Handbook Tour (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #9)

Did The CIA Kill JFK Over LSD?, Reproduced Authentic, & Two Heads Talking: David Byrne In Conversation With Timothy Leary (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #10)

Memory & Identity In Relentlessly Fast Forward & Memetically Crowded Times (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #11)

The First Virtual War & Other Smart Bombshells (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #12)

Swashbuckling Around The World With Marvin Minsky In How To Mutate & Take Over The World (MONDO 2000 History Project #13)

FAIL! Debbie Does MONDO (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #14)

Paradise Is Santa Cruz: First Ecstasy (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #15)

William Gibson On MONDO 2000 & 90s Cyberculture (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #16)

Ted Nelson & John Perry Barlow For MONDO 2000 (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #17)

R.U. A Cyberpunk? Well, Punk? R.U.? (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry # 18

The New Edge At The New Age Convention (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #19)

 

 


May 28 2012

All Aboard The Express Kundalini: Trippin’ Balls With David J. From Love And Rockets and Bauhaus

“I felt this glow at the base of my spine, and I felt a warm substance rising through the spine. I had a terrific hard-on, like a Yule log. I wasn’t thinking anything sexual. And then I had, like, an explosion of this substance in my head! It was orgasmic, but it was like a cosmic orgasm. And I felt a golden—I just equate it with the color gold—it was gold, and it just flowed over my brain! It was just ecstatic.”

 

The ’80s were a grim time for kids in search of higher consciousness. Cocaine, capitalism, hedonism and hairspray held sway, and all the things our parents had revered—psychedelic sacraments, meditation, tribalism, gentleness, artistic expression—were considered hopelessly uncool. Not surprisingly, the music of the day reflected this shift: “Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream” had given way to “Everybody Wang Chung tonight.”

One of the few psychedelic treasures that mushroomed from this manure was Love and Rockets, a British alternative rock band comprised of three former members of the pioneering post-punk group Bauhaus. L&R broke through to mainstream American audiences in 1986 with its second album, Express—a title that, on one hand, challenged the group’s hair dye-sporting, trench coat-clad fan base to communicate through art, and on the other, proclaimed that the magical mystery tour bus of the ’60s had been replaced by a faster, sleeker mode of transport to the astral realms. When bassist/vocalist David J urged, “All aboard the Express Kundalini,” it was in much the same spirit that yesteryear’s psychedelic pied pipers had inquired, “Is everybody in?” and “Are you on the bus?” But the band’s stylish, cutting-edge sound left no question: This train was headed out there where the rainbow-painted buses didn’t run.

Enticed by the palpable whiff of LSD-fertilized spirituality emanating from Love and Rockets’ music, some of us accepted the invitation. With the aid of various enchanted fungi and exotic potions, we traversed the weird and wonderful landscapes of the hidden self. David J served as a friendly, wise, cosmically cool tour guide, directing us to let our flesh melt into pulsating whorls of electrical ectoplasm (“You are disintegrating into everything around,”), nudging us toward the realization that enlightenment can only be found in the present moment (“Are you in search of somewhere or something that rings true? Well, it could be closer than you think,”) and gifting us with Alan Watts-ian bits of mind-origami (“You cannot go against nature, because when you do go against nature, it’s part of nature, too”).

J, who explores the mystery of mortality on his latest solo album, Not Long for this World, insists that the essence of chemically catalyzed gnosis can’t be captured in words. “It’s like the Tao: ‘The Tao that can be expressed in words is not the Tao,’ and the psychedelic experience that can be expressed in a song lyric is not really the psychedelic experience,” he offers. “But it can give you a little hint. And maybe you can dance to it at the same time, which is fun.”

DAMON ORION: Tell me about your first psychedelic experience. 

DAVID J: I didn’t really get into psychedelics until ’85. It was the time of the first Love and Rockets album [Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven]. In fact, the collage that’s on the inside of the gatefold sleeve—that was finished on LSD, on the day of my first trip. I remember doing that tripping balls! [Laughs] And being quite delighted with it.

This was after a very long day in the English countryside. It was a place called Castle Ashby. Perfect place. Great setting, and I had the right mindset. I’d chosen the place, chosen the day: July 4th, 1985. I’d collected music — I was going to play Steve Reich, which I thought would be appropriate. I’d taken the tab, and I had all these cassettes all over the floor of my car. In that state, I couldn’t find the tape! It started this mild panic, but then I started laughing at myself for panicking. And I thought, “OK, I’m just going to dig in here and pull something out at random.” I did, and it was The Velvet Underground’s third album. That just turned out to be the perfect accompaniment, and it guided me on that portion of the trip whilst it was playing. I remember looking up at this blue sky, and “Pale Blue Eyes” came on. And the whole sky was made up of thousands and thousands of eyes that were sort of like embossed watermark designs—very subtle, sort of blue-on-blue. Then I realized it was my eye, and when I blinked, all the eyes in the sky blinked with me. And then I saw rays coming down from the eyes—these cosmic rays. They were going into my heart, and it was just very joyous. And as I received, so I gave back, and that built the intensity. So it was like this feedback was building up, like a generator. And what was at the heart of that feeling was love. Then all the eyes went away, and I just felt very connected to spiritual essence. Thank you, Lou Reed! [Laughs] It’s a song about adultery, but it became a trigger, a catalyst, that led me into that experience.

At the end of the day, we [Love and Rockets] all went back to [guitarist/vocalist] Daniel [Ash]’s house—a little terraced house on a side street in Northampton—and we were finishing off that collage. I remember sitting on the floor, looking at Daniel’s antique furniture and thinking how sexy the legs of the furniture were, and remarking on this! [Laughs] The curvature of the furniture, and Daniel just smiling.

DAMON: I love that Love and Rockets was christened with an LSD trip! What other psychedelic experiences have you had that influenced your art?

DAVID: My second experience was very heavy. That was indoors, and I decided to do some drawing and listen to The Beatles’ Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s. Just something I had to do. So I got as far as Revolver, and I was looking at this sheet of blank paper, and I just started to see this jungle in the paper. It was sort of like the cover of Revolver, but again, it was sort of like this effect of being embossed, almost like watermarks. It was incredibly detailed—there was all this fauna and jungle vines and leaves, and there were little characters in there, sort of like going through the hair on the front cover. And there were animals and all sorts of stuff, but as soon as I focused on anything, it would disappear, and something would come through to take its place.

The music sounded incredible. That was when I was listening to “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Then I remember looking at the back of my hand and seeing through to my bones, seeing the cellular structure, seeing blood coursing through my veins, and then seeing my hand rot in front of my eyes. It was horrific. But I remembered that old adage: the Buddhist thing of “If you see something terrible, do not turn away. If you see something beautiful, do not cling to it.” I embraced that and went into the hand, into the death, and came through the other side. I saw it as a very beautiful process.

There’s a line in one of our songs, “The worm we dug from higher ground”—that’s what that came from, that experience. So it was the death trip. If I had turned away from it, it could have turned very negative, but thankfully I didn’t. And there was a huge lesson in that.

DAMON: “I know what it’s like to be dead,” indeed! So, as long as you’re referencing the Express album, you’ve said before that you’d sum up that record in three letters: LSD. Can you elaborate on that a little?

DAVID: [Chuckles] This was from my own personal angle, because we weren’t all doing this together. And in fact, at that point, the others were a bit concerned that I was becoming too much of a psychonaut. [Laughs] But I had to have that experience, and it was the right time. And Love and Rockets, being the band it was at the time, was the perfect vehicle, because it was a very psychedelic-leaning band. I was kind of evangelical at that point—I was Timothy Leary back in 1960, you know?

DAMON: Well, I’m happy about that. I think it was really important for people like me, who weren’t around for the ’60s, to have musicians from our own era inviting us to visit those higher planes and fly the friendly skies. So, how did the song “Kundalini Express” come into being?

DAVID: That song originally was gonna be called “Dr. Hofmann,” and it was going to be about Albert Hofmann discovering LSD, but it just sort of mutated into this lyric about kundalini and aligning that with psychedelic experience. Just before I started experimenting with psychedelics, I had a spontaneous kundalini experience when I was meditating. I didn’t know anything about kundalini, but I started to hyperventilate, and then I effectively stopped breathing, which was very strange.

I felt this glow at the base of my spine, and I felt a warm substance rising through the spine. I had a terrific hard-on, like a Yule log. I wasn’t thinking anything sexual. And then I had, like, an explosion of this substance in my head! It was orgasmic, but it was like a cosmic orgasm. And I felt a golden—I just equate it with the color gold—it was gold, and it just flowed over my brain! It was just ecstatic. I had no idea what had just happened, so I started to look into this experience at the library—this was pre-Internet. I discovered kundalini, and I’d had a classic spontaneous kundalini experience. Never had it again.

DAMON: You struck gold there! People who have heard of kundalini can strive for 30 years to get there, and you just stumbled onto it! You mentioned Albert Hofmann. Did you ever meet him?

DAVID: No. I met Timothy Leary a couple of times, though. I was introduced to Tim by his personal assistant, Howard Hallis, who also did Tim’s website, and Howard does my website now. I actually met Tim the first time at Cinematic, this S&M bar in Hollywood where Psychic TV was playing. He invited me to a party at his house, which was a great event. I remember going to the fridge to get a beer, and next to the beers was a cryonic suspension tank for his head! I got to talk to Tim at length. He was interested in Love and Rockets. He actually really liked the lyrics of “No New Tale to Tell.”

So the last time I spoke to him on the phone, I invited him to a gig we were playing at The Palace in L.A. But I didn’t realize that he’d gone down really quick since the last time I saw him, and he was just staying in bed. But he said, “I’ll be there in spirit.” And he died a couple of days later.

We were on tour at the time, and at the gig that happened the day after he died, I dedicated “Yin and Yang (The Flower Pot Man)” to Tim. That song starts with an acoustic guitar, like a Bo Diddley rhythm. Daniel struck the guitar in a funny way, and it just made the strings feed back in a way I’d never heard before or since. And this vibration just picked up, and I thought, [excitedly] “Let that go, Daniel! Just let it go!” And he thought the same, ’cause he did. I remember him holding his hands up in the air, just lettin’ this thing ring out and build up and up and up.

He started doing this undulating rhythm, and it was echoing ’round this big hall. Kevin [Haskins, the drummer] picked up on it and started doing a bass drum beat to this rhythm, and then the crowd picked up on that and started clapping. We all started clapping in the band, and this tribal sound just grew and grew. It was really something! And at the right moment, Daniel went back to the Bo Diddley rhythm, and we crashed back into the song. The chorus of that song goes, “Beauty, beauty, beauty, beautiful.” Then I saw Howard, who was with Tim when he died. I said, “What were his last words?” He said, “His last words were ‘Beautiful. Beautiful.’” And then the last thing he said to me came back: “I’ll be there in spirit.”

DAMON: [Loud exhale] Wow. Getting chills here! This seems like a good time to ask: Do you have any hunches about what happens to consciousness after death?

DAVID: [Pause] Hmm. I do have a feeling about it, which is intensified through my meditation, and sometimes I feel I really understand that. But it’s hard to express. I’ll give it a shot: I think there’s an eternal, ever-expanding cosmic center. You can call this God; you can call it whatever you want. You can call it Simon. I dunno. But there’s something out there that’s not just out there—it’s in there, and it’s outside of in there, and it’s outside of out there. And its self-perpetuating is the essence of bliss. And it’s never gonna go away. It cannot go away. That is the thing that abides, and we are here to learn lessons, and for our souls to grow and for that soul-matter to keep coming back to school until we graduate, and then we just become completely absorbed into the center of Godhead, and we remain.

DAMON: Yes. That rings true on an intuitive level. Now, when Love and Rockets put out [1994’s] Hot Trip to Heaven, MDMA had clearly become the new fuel of choice. What’s your take on that drug?

DAVID: That’s a very interesting drug, in that it’s an empathogen. And also, I think it’s an anti-bullshit drug. You can’t get away with being a bullshitter, and you just see through people’s veils, masks and games. You don’t want to play any kind of games anymore. You just want to be real, and you want to relate and share the love. [Laughs] And it’s very beautiful for that. But because it’s so enjoyable, there’s a danger that it can be abused and overused. But I treat all these drugs with a lot of respect, and I think if you approach them with that mindset, then you get back what you give. I think that’s especially true of something like mushrooms, because there seems to be some spirit that resides within the mushroom experience and actually talks to you. You know McKenna’s thing of communicating with that entity? I’ve had that experience.

DAMON: What happened there?

DAVID:  One time we were on tour in the States, in L.A., and Daniel and I wanted to get some mushrooms. So somebody from our label at the time got us a big bag of God’s Flesh. Daniel chickened out, which he’s apt to do, so I just started neckin’ ’em. When the person who delivered them came back, she said, “He’s taken that much?! My God!!” I’m hearing this, and it starts coming on. I’m lying on the floor, looking up at the ceiling, which is just turning into spirals and swirls. I could have quite easily panicked, but again, that response kicked in: “No, go with it. It’s cool. It’s gonna be OK.” But I had to get out of the room. I walked down the corridor of the hotel, and there was a big family of Mexicans and all their relatives—it must have been about 20 of these people coming down the hall. I had to make my way through them—they were just thronging. And as I touched them, I was getting these ancestral experiences, just tapping into Aztec imagery.

I was seeing lizards and pyramids and stars exploding. It was going off, you know? And then I got back to my room, put a big coat on and lay on the balcony. All of a sudden I was in this big, revolving mandala of Aztec imagery. And then I was aware of a voice coming through. It wasn’t in any language or anything; it was beyond language. But it was talking to me and saying, “Welcome. You’ve decided to step into this dimension. You’re free to remain, and you’re here of your own volition, your own free will. This is a very ancient world and can give you many gifts. And what you bring to the party is what you leave with,” basically.

The day after, I get up and I draw the curtains, and I see two flying saucers. Really close up. Just hovering in midair. Silver—just classic discs. This was about midday, bright blue sky, and there they are! So I thought, “I’ve got to phone Daniel to tell him about this.” But I couldn’t break away, because it was so compelling. I was straight by then, you know; I’d come down off of the mushrooms. So I called him up. He’s asleep, because he’s a very late riser.

He says, “Dave, this better be fuckin’ important, man.” I said, [hurriedly] “Just go and look out your window, Dan. Now. You won’t regret it.” “Oh, fuckin’ ’ell!” I get the call back: “Dave, you’re trippin’, man. I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about.” “There were two flying saucers, Dan.” “Yeah, OK, Dave. Keep takin’ the mushrooms.” “But I saw the bastards!” And it’s interesting, McKenna’s whole theory about that connection.

DAMON: I was thinking the same thing. Well, it’s been said that these sacred plants and fungi are a kind of telephone that our… galactic cousins have left us as a way of contacting them. It may be that Daniel wasn’t on that particular telephone, but you were. Do you have a take on whether what you saw was real or not?

DAVID: Yeah. I think it was real, yes. I’ll tell you another interesting mushroom story: again, on tour, Love and Rockets. Actually, it was the same batch of mushrooms! [Laughs] I think it was what was left of them in the bag. A week before this incident—this is a real rock & roll cliché—but we were in Chicago, and I was having a bit of a meltdown. It’s the only time I’ve done this, but I went out and got a bottle of whiskey, and I wrecked the hotel room. Trashed it; did a Keith Moon. And then I just thought, “This is so negative. What are you doing?” And I had a big sketchpad I took on that tour, so I thought to draw and try to express my way out of this malaise. I drew a little planet Earth, and then I drew all the planets and stars around it, and I did a big face of Buddha looking down, beatifically smiling on all of this.

I thought, “I’m just this tiny little speck on this tiny little ball in the middle of this vast space. Get your stupid, spoilt-child problems into perspective. You’re living a life that a lot of people would give their right arm for. Get on with it, you fuckup!” It did the trick. Then I’m in a better mindset, and we had the mushrooms in L.A. Then we were on the bus, traveling north up to Canada, and we had to get rid of whatever we had, y’know. So I just swallowed these mushrooms, thinking that we had a day off.

But then, after we crossed the border, the tour manager says, “So, remember, guys, you’ve got a lot of interviews as soon as you get to the hotel. You’ve got about four each. They’re all gonna be waiting in the lobby. These are really important interviews.” And I’m just trippin’ my head off! So I thought, “Well, this will be interesting.” As I was goin’ in [the hotel], my eye caught this really beautiful, angelic-looking blonde girl. I thought, “Well, I hope she’s one of my interviewers.” I went through the first three interviews, and I just fessed up to the interviewers: “Look, I… I’m trippin’.” [Laughs]

DAMON: You must have made the journalists’ day! “I’ve got a live one here!”

DAVID: [Laughs] Yeah! And they were great about it. So my last interviewer comes in, and it’s this gorgeous girl. Then she said, “Before I start the interview, I’ve got something for you. But I want you to open it after I’ve gone.” So she gives me this little box, wrapped up. And I was just looking into her eyes. Her eyes became swimming pools, and I dived in. We had a lovely time, and then she left.

I decided to run a bath. As I’m running the bath, I open this present, and what is inside it is a little tin globe—a little tin Earth. I thought, “Hold on a minute.” I got my sketchpad out, and I put [the tin globe] over the little Earth that I’d drawn that day [of the hotel trashing], and it was exactly the same dimensions—I mean exactly the same circumference. So I go into the bath, and I take the ball into the bath with me and start bobbin’ it up and down, still trippin’ balls.

Then I start to do AUM in the bath. I don’t know why; I’ve never done that before, but I start to do it. I was just feeling the vibration of the AUM coming through the bath and water, and I was changing the molecular structure of the water, [or] I perceived that I was doing that. And it was a really good bath! [Laughs] And the next day I see Danny, and he said, “Dave, what the fuck was goin’ on in your room yesterday?! I was hearing, like, this dronin’ noise, man!” So I told him the story, and he was quite impressed. He said, “Yeah, I bumped into her on the way in as well. Wish she was my interviewer.” “Well, that’s the way it goes, Dan. She was meant for me.”

DAMON: Did you keep in touch with her?

DAVID: Nope.

DAMON: Too bad.

DAVID: Well, “If you see something beautiful, do not cling to it,” you know?

A shorter version of this interview was originally published in MAPS Bulletin

May 01 2012

Did The CIA Kill JFK Over LSD?, Reproduced Authentic, & Two Heads Talking: David Byrne In Conversation With Timothy Leary (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #10

What you’ll be looking at is a scan of part of MONDO 2000 Issue #6, including an interview/article inside in which Timothy Leary interviews David Byrne and also writes an art essay titled “Reproduced Authentic.”

First, the cover.   It’s my favorite. Behold and contemplate.  It hailed an inside article titled “America’s First Psychedelic President?” by Nancy Druid.  Or as Bart Nagel put it, “Did the CIA kill JFK over LSD?”  As a matter of fact, there’s a new book out that follows this story titled Mary’s Mosaic: The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and Their Vision of World Peace and yes, MONDO’s man in L.A., Timothy Leary is involved in this one too.   

Whether one finds these implications plausible or absurd, the image still, I dare say with meager exaggeration, speaks to America’s late 20th Century like no other — capturing a moment of rupture that defined the times, psychedelia spilling from the splattering brain included.

The image was dreamed up and created by one Eric White, who did a bunch of amazing artworks for Mondo before he became a famous painter who you’ve probably never heard of… but doesn’t that just tell ya something about ruptured times and splattered brains?

Inside you’ll gaze upon pages 64 – 69 of the issue involving Byrne and Leary.   Leary’s intro to the interview is on page 64.  A groovy pic of David Byrne is on page 65.  (photos of Byrne and Leary were taken by Yvette Roman.) On page 67 on the right side of the page is a fragment of the Top 10 Conspiracy Theories that are sprinkled throughout the issue… most or all of those (I forget) were written by Gracie and Zarkov. It’s reproduced here in the name of authenticity.

Page 68 is a bit of art theory that Leary wrote in response to a book that David Byrne showed Tim before the interview titled Reproduced Authentic written for a Gallery Show of the same name featuring Byrne, among other, that captured Leary’s imagination.

In the text provided below, I’m running the art essay “Reproduced Authentic” first, followed by the intro/interview and then the little nibble of the top 10 Conspiracy Theories.  I do this because I like the art theory essay as much as the rest of it and you know what they say about short attention spans.

Here it all is… fully reproduced and authenticated.

R.U. Sirius

Thanks to Zach Leary for scans and to Ian Monroe for text scans.

(A full text transcript follows the PDF)

Mondo 2000_issue 6

Reproduced Authentic

Timothy Leary, pg 68. MONDO 2000 #6

Reproduced Authentic is a magnificently bound art book containing five paintings by David Byrne and four other artists which were converted to 8 1/2″ x 11″ images transmitted from New York to Tokyo via telephone line by facsimile. They were exhibited at GALERIE VIA EIGHT, a show curated by Joseph Kusuth.

I consider this apparent oxymoron — “Reproduced Authentic” — to be the most fascinating-controversial-liberating issue confronting us as we move from the solid, possessive materialism of the feudal-industrial societies to the relativity/recreativity of the electronic stage.

Now that Newton’s Laws have become local ordinances, the clunky, static art treasures of wood, marble, canvas, steel become crumbling curiosities, their value insanely inflated by well-marketed “rarity.” These archaeological antiques are huckstered at Sotheby auctions, guarded by armed guards in vault-like galleries or in the mansions of wealthy collectors.

Thus the wretched caste-class possessiveness of feudal and industrial culture which prized “rarity.” Thus the $50 million market for canvases which the unauthentic painter Van Gogh could not “transmit” for a five franc meal at the local bistro. To the feudal aristocrat as well as the Manhattan art critic “authentic” means a “rare original,” a commodity traded by gallery merchants and monopolized by owners. The politics of solid-state aesthetics are authoritarian and one-way — owner-producers on one side and passive gawkers on the other.

Transmissibility replaces rarity. According to German philosopher, Walter Benjamin, “The authenticity of a thing is the essence of all that is transmissible from its beginning ranging from its substantive duration … to the history which it has experienced.” Rarity “now is a… mask of art’s potential for meaning and no longer constitutes the criterion of authenticity. Art’s meaning then becomes socially (and politically) formed by the living.” Reanimated.

These liberating, egalitarian, thrilling notions of “reproduced authentic” and transmissibility are the application of quantum field dynamics and Einsteinian relativity to humanist electronic communication. The implications are profound and timely. The politics are interactive. The passive consumers become active agents.

You receive electronic patterns on your screens, disks, FAX machines, and you transform and transmit.

What is “authentic” is not the possessed object but the ever-changing network — the entangled field of electronic interactions through which the essence-icon is continually recreated.

Recreating the Mona Lisa. The 12 year-old inner city kid can slide the Mona Lisa onto her Mac screen, color the eyes green, modem it to her pal in Paris who adds purple lipstick and runs it through a laser copier which is then faxed to Joseph Kusuth for the next GALERIE VIA EIGHT show in Tokyo.

It is this transmissibility, this re-animation, this global interactivity that David Byrne authenticates so gracefully.

 

Two Heads Talking: David Byrne In Conversation with Timothy Leary, pg. 64 – 69, MONDO 2000 issue #6

Reproduced Authentic

Reproduce: To generate offspring by sexual or asexual union; to produce again or renew; to re-create; to reanimate.

Authenticate: entitled to acceptance because of agreement with known fact or experience, reliable, trustworthy. Example: an authentic portrayal of the past present or future. 

It has been my pleasure during the last 30 years to have hung out with and been re-created by some of the most innovative minds of these high times.

I speak of those who have contributed their talents to our recent renaissance — the humanist, individualistic upheavals of the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s.  Artists; poets; writers; musicians; scientists; filmmakers; entertainers.

These superstars illuminate, energize, disseminate, squirt out memes. They fertilize our minds.  But let’s be frank.  Supernovas don’t conceive.

My life has been guided by a smaller group of illuminati who perform the less visible, but, perhaps more important role of navigating our future.  Multimedia wizards who experiment with new forms of reproducing and transmitting.  People who perform philosophy, if you will.

For bibliographic references I site you William Burroughs, Marshall McLuhan, Aldous Huxley, Thomas Pynchon, Chris Blackwell, Laurie Anderson, Todd Rundgren, Allen Ginsberg.

And speaking of renaissance authenticators, consider David Byrne.

For starters, David helps found the Talking Heads, arguably one of the ten most important rock bands of all time.

He directs two innovative films — True Stories and Ile Aiye, a haunting documentary about Brazilian religious festivals.

He wins an Oscar for scoring The Last Emperor.

His publishing house, Luaka Bop, transmits global sound.  His new album Uh Oh fuses the best of Byrne — biting rock beat, pulsing Latin drive, 21st Century flare, and Talking Heads sass.

And, oh yeah… there’s a symphony.

On November 23, I went to the Seattle Opera House. Sold out. In the lobby you could feel that special expectant buzz.  The Seattle symphony played standard concert stuff for the first half of the program. The second half was devoted to Byrne’s full length piece, The Forest.  Ten movements, no less.

At the end of the symphony the hall boomed with applause.  The conductor waved for David to move to the podium. Standing ovation. What a moment for a rock ‘n’ roller from the Rhode Island School of Design! An authentic moment.

For me, David Byrne transmits the message of the New Breed, the MONDO 2000 spirit.  Human, funny, global, passionate, laid back, friendly, ironic, wise…

And, oh yeah…

Reproduced; re-creational, authentic

 

CORDLESS COSMOPOLITANS

TIMOTHY LEARY: I mention you in every lecture I give, because you represent the 21st century concept of international/global coming together through electronics. How did you get into that?

DAVID BYRNE: With television and movies and records being disseminated all over the globe, you have instant access to almost anything, anywhere. But it’s out of context — free-floating. People in other parts of the world — India, South America, Russia —have access to whatever we’re doing. They can play around with it, misinterpret it or reinterpret it. And we’re free to do the same. It’s a part of the age we live in.

There’s that kind of communication — even though it’s not always direct.

TL: The young Japanese particularly. Read those Tokyo youth magazines! They pick up on everything. Rolling Stone is like a little village publication compared to Japanese mags.

DB: They’re very catholic in that sense.

TL: What’s your image in the Global New Breed culture? How are you seen in Brazil, for instance?

DB: I’m seen as a musician whom some people have heard of — not a lot — who has an appreciation of what Brazilians are doing. Sometimes it’s confusing for them, because some of the things I like are not always what their critics like.

For instance, some of the records on Luaka Bop — like music from the Northeast, and even some of the Samba stuff — are considered by the middle and upper class and intelligentsia to be lower class music. Like listening to Country & Western or Rap here. They’re surprised that this “sophisticated” guy from New York likes lower class music instead of their fine art music.

But sometimes it makes them look again at their own culture and appreciate what they’d ignored. Much in the same way that the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton made young Americans look at Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf. I’m not doing it intentionally, but it has that effect.

TL: What music do you listen to? Who are your favorite musicians now?

DB: The last Public Enemy record was just amazing — a dense collage with a lot of real philosophy. I listened to the last Neil Young record. I have some records from Japanese groups, and Brazilian and Cuban stuff — all the stuff we’ve been putting out on the label.

TL: Tell us about Luaka Bop.

DB: I put together a compilation of songs by important Brazilian artists a couple of years ago, and afterwards I thought it could be an ongoing thing. I figured that I might as well have an umbrella mechanism so that people might see the label and check it out. It was a practical thing in that way.

We’re now slowly getting into a greater range of things. In the future we’re going to release soundtracks for Indian movies, an Okinawan pop group and a duo from England. That will be one of our few releases in English.

INDUSTRIAL SYMPHONY #2

TL: Marshall McLuhan would be very happy with that — globalization.

What about your symphony, The Forest?

DB: It was originally done for a Robert Wilson piece. The idea was that we’d take the same story — the Gilgamesh legend. He’d interpret it for stage and I’d do it as a film. We’d use my music. The hope was that we’d present them in the same city at the same time. So you could see two vastly different interpretations of a reinterpreted ancient legend. I found it’s the oldest story we know. We updated it to the industrial revolution in Europe.

TL: Cosmology and immortality.

DB: It was written in the first cities ever built. Oddly enough, it deals with the same questions that came up during the industrial revolution and persist today — when cities and industry expand at a phenomenal rate. It deals with what it means to be civilized versus natural. So it has a current resonance, although it’s as old as you can get.

TL: The older I get, the more I see everything in stages. I start with the tribe and move through the feudal, Gilgamesh, the industrial… But what’s impressed me about your music is that regardless of the setting, there’s always the African body beat.

DB: It’s part of our culture now. It’s something we’ve been inundated with. The Africans who were forcibly brought here have colonized us with their music, with their sensibility and rhythm. They’ve colonized their oppressors.

TL: Michael Ventura, who explains how Voudoun came from Africa, says the same thing. I wrote an article about Southern vegetables — we colonials going into Southern cultures and grabbing their sugar, coffee and bananas. The industrial people arrive, build factories, and then they become counter-colonized by the music, the food and the psychoactive vegetables. It happened to the British in India.

DB: In a subtle way it changes people’s ways of thinking; it increases the possibilities for what they could think and feel. And they’re not always aware of what’s happening to them.

THE TAO OF TURTLE WAX

TL: I see the industrial age as a stage — a very tacky, messy, awkward stage of human evolution. We had to have the smoky factories, and we must mature beyond them. I was very touched by your comments about The Forest. You were trying to acknowledge the romance and the grandeur of the factory civilization even though it was fucking everything up.

DB: My instinctual reaction is that this stuff sucks. It’s created the mess that we’re in. But you’re not going to find your way out of the mess unless you can somehow, like the Samurai, identify with your enemy. Become one with your enemy, understand it, or you won’t be able to find your way out of the maze.

TL: The Soviet Union is a great teacher about the horrors of firepower and machine tech. You see the smog and those grizzled old miners coming out of the deep, sooty mines with their faces black. On the other hand, there was a grandeur to it, and you can’t cut out the industrial side of our nature, because it has brought us to this room where we can use machines to record our conversation. That’s something that I find interesting in Japan, which is the perfect machine society. There’s not much pollution there — you never see any filth on the street.

DB: No, it’s cleaned up pretty quickly. You get scolded for tossing a can out your car window.  I’ve seen people get scolded for not washing their car! It’s a matter of lace.

TL: And nothing is old there. I didn’t see one car that was more than four years old or with a dent in it.

DB: That’s taking LA one step further.

TL: I spent some time today watching your video, “Ilie Ayie.”

DB: It’s about an Afro-Brazilian religion called Candomble. “Ile Ayie” in Yoruba… an African language, roughly translates as the house of life or the realm that we live in.

TL: The Biosphere 1…

DB: Yeah, the dimension that we live in rather than other existing dimensions. It was done in Bahia, in the city of Salvador, on the coast of Northeastern Brazil. It’s about an African religion that’s been there since slavery times. It’s mutated and evolved over the years to the extent that now it could be called an Afro-Brazilian religion — there’s a lot of African elements. The ceremonies, the rituals consist of a lot of drumming, people occasionally go into trance, offerings are made, altars are made… the occasional sacrifice … It’s an ecstatic religion — it feels good.

TL: I’ve never seen so many dignified, happy human beings in any place at any time. For over 90 minutes the screen is filled with these stately older black women…

DB: It’s very joyous and regal. When the drums and dancing kick in it’s like a really hot rock or R&B show. When the music hits that level where I’ve seen everybody tunes into it, it’s the same kind of feeling.

TL: That’s what religion should be. But it’s not all joyous. At times there’s a sternness — a sphinx-like trance to it.

DB: It deals with acknowledging and paying homage to the natural forces. Some of those are deadly, some are joyous, some are dangerous and some are life giving. That’s the flux of nature, and Candomble acknowledges the entire dynamic.

TL: You also said that the aim of these ceremonies is to bring the Orixas — deities who serve as intermediaries between mortals and the supreme force of nature. Tell us about that.

DB: When the vibe is right somebody gets possessed by one of the gods. There’s a pantheon of gods like in ancient Greece or Rome. The god is said to be there in the room, in the body, so you can have a conversation with him, or dance with him. God isn’t up there unreachable, untouchable. It’s something that can come right down into the room with you. You can dance with it or ask direct questions.

TL: The great thing about the Greek gods was that they had human qualities.

DB: These as well. They can be sexy, jealous, vain, loving, whatever — all the attributes of people.

THE MOTHER DOING WHAT?

TL: William Gibson has written about Voudoun. Many of his Voudoun people talk about the human being as a horse, and how the god comes down and rides the human being.

DB: That’s the Haitian metaphor — the horse. It’s the same idea.

TL: The healer, the warrior, the mother bubbling — one after another these archetypes of characters or natural forces — basic human situations, roles…

DB: The nurturing mother or the warrior man or woman, the sexy coquette…

TL: The seductive female warrior — that’s Yarzan. I became confused when that man dressed as a Catholic priest rants about false prophets.

DB: The African religion is periodically being persecuted by the Catholic Church, by the Protestant Church, by the government. They go through waves of being recognized and persecuted and going underground and coming back up again and being recognized and pushed down again.

TL: I know the cycle well.

DB: So that was a scene from a fictional film there dramatizing persecution by orthodox religion.

TL: You wrote it in…

DB: It was something I found in a Brazilian film. It was an example of recent persecution, so l threw it in.

TL: That’s a very powerful moment because it wasn’t orchestrated. It was authentic, as your friend here would say. [Points to a copy of Reproduced Authentic] Would you comment on this book?

DB: An artist named Joseph Kusuth organized it. He’s most well-known for art that looks like your shirt.

TL: [Displays shirt] It’s designed by Anarchic Adjustments. The front reads “Ecstasy,” and on one arm it reads “Egos In, Egos Out.”

DB: Joseph Kusuth would have a definition of a word and just frame that. He invited me to be part of this exhibition in Japan where the idea was to create art with a fax machine. I did something equivalent to the seven deadly sins. It didn’t exist — I collaged it, sandwiched it in the fax machine, and it came out the other end. They took the fax and blew it up to the size of a painting. When it was transmitted, rather than receiving it on paper they received it on acetate. The acetate became a photo negative. They have fax machines that can receive other materials, and then they can blow it up to any size.

FAX MUSEUM

TL: You say you didn’t want to be a scientist because you liked the graffiti in the art department better. If you had been a scientist what would you have been?

DB: At the time I was attracted to pure science — physics — where you could speculate and be creative. It’s equivalent to being an artist. If you get the chance, and the cards fall right, there’s no difference. The intellectual play and spirit are the same.

TL: Nature is that way — it’s basically playful. Murray Gelman, who is one of America’s greatest quantum physicists, used the word “quark” to describe the basic element from a funny line from James Joyce, “three quarks from Muster Mark.”

DB: I had a math teacher in high school who included Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland in his higher math studies. I thought, “This guy knows what he’s doing.”

TL: Dodgson, the fellow who wrote it, knew what he was doing. That metaphor of through the looking glass on the other side of the screen. Talk about your Yoruba gods and goddesses. Talk about Yarzan and Shango. Alice is the Goddess of the Electronic Age. 

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Page 67, right column.  MONDO 2000 Issue #6

Number 5

Propaganda Due (P2)

• Conspiracy for conspiracy’s sake.

• They leave flowers at Giordano Bruno’s statue on the anniversary of hisdeath at the stake (see Catholic Church).

• However many teams there are, they belong to at least N+ 1.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Psychedelic Transpersonal Photography, High Frontiers & MONDO 2000: an Interview with Marc Franklin

Gibson & Leary Audio (MONDO 2000 History Project)

Pariahs Made Me Do It: The Leary-Wilson-Warhol-Dali Influence (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #3)

Robert Anton Wilson Talks To Reality Hackers Forum (1988 — Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #4)

Smart Drugs & Nutrients In 1991 (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #5)

LSD, The CIA, & The Counterculture Of The 1960s: Martin Lee (1986, Audio. Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #6)

William Burroughs For R.U. Sirius’ New World Disorder (1990, Mondo 2000 History Project Entry # 7)

New Edge & Mondo: A Personal Perspective – Part 1 (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #8)

New Edge & Mondo: A Personal Perspective – Part 2 (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #8)

The Glorious Cyberpunk Handbook Tour (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #9)

 

 

 

Feb 19 2012

LSD, The CIA, & The Counterculture Of The 1960s: Martin Lee (1986, Audio. Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #6

Some time in 1986, I walked into Cody’s Books in Berkeley and saw a book on prominent display titled Acid  Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond by Martin Lee and Bruce Schlain.   Containing an impulse to start dancing around the aisles, I grabbed a copy and bought it.

I think it’s fair to say that nothing fascinates psychedelic aficionados as much as the connection between acid and the US intelligence and military establishments during the 1950s and ’60s.  For those who had profound and important experiences  — and perhaps more to the point — for those who had subversive experiences that made them doubt the very existence of nation states and their borderlines amongst other antiestablishment insights, the notion that not only did the powerful view these substances as tools for war but that we all might be “useful idiots” in some psychologically and spiritually heightened Machiavellian war on consciousness was… yes… frightening, but even more, intriguing.

We were able to catch Martin Lee in San Francisco — who, at that time lived in Washington D.C. — while he was on his book tour.   Jeff Mark aka Severe Tire Damage (“I was the one with the car”) and I had the pleasure of interviewing Marty over dinner.

As Queen Mu and I batted around ideas for an introduction to the q&a, it transpired that she was not wholly satisfied with what we had extracted from Marty about the possible conspiracies with nefarious sorts and we got on the phone with him.

That phone call was — as Mu was inclined to put it — utterly fascinating, and it did turn out that Lee harbored some suspicions that he hadn’t included in the book.  This resulted in an introduction by Mu in which she wrote:

“In a recent telephone conversation, Marty continues to speculate — on the connections between Italian Fascist philosopher Julius Evola with his ‘spiritual warrior elite,’ Rene Guenon (the French Esotericist) and mescaline; on the reported fascination with psychedelics by Sartre, Maurice Merleau Ponti and Henri Michaux. The links are intriguing if difficult to pin down.  Clearly though, by the 1930s, an awareness of hallucinogens had spread through artistic and literary circles in Berlin and other European capitals.

“All this merely contextualizes the real heavy-duty experimentation with psychedelics which Joseph Borkin stumbled on while researching The Crime and Punishment of I.G. Farben. A discovery which Borkin left out of the book was that I.G. Farben maintained, throughout the ’30s, a special secret division devoted to research on psychotomimetic agents. In Acid Dreams, Martin Lee detailed Nazi mind control experiments with mescaline carried out by Nazi doctors in Dachau. Here he raises the interesting point that LSD, first synthesized in 1938, actually fell into the ambit of I.G. Farben when they gobbled up Sandoz that same year. Curiouser and curiouser!”

This is a segment of the very long conversation between Martin Lee, R.U. Sirius and Jeff Mark and it involves a wide range of topics, including:

  • The mystical implications of the LSD experience
  • CIA, LSD and the counterculture in the 1960s
  • Secret societies amongst the ruling elite
  • Using psychoactive drugs as chemical weapons

The recording is a bit rough to hear in spots… but you can make out pretty much everything Marty says, and that’s the important part.

Listen to the audio now:

 

Download Martin Lee discussing LSD, the CIA, and 1960s counterculture.

Feb 06 2012

Smart Drugs & Nutrients In 1991 (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #5)

By 1991, smart drugs and nutrients were all over the media with articles appearing in the New York Times and Vanity Fair; segments on network news shows both local and national and pitchmen-and-women going on afternoon talk shows to tout their efficacy (and, of course, Pearson and Shaw had been semi-regulars on The Mike Douglas Show for years).  Mondo was running at least one article an issue dedicated to the what, where and how of it… with only the addition of St. Jude’s column, “Irresponsible Journalism,” using irony to sound a slight note of skepticism.

I was using 4 Piracetam a day, washed down with a Choline Cooler and 4 cups of coffee a day.  Clearly, I liked feeling awake and the Piracetam worked for that purpose — until, after a couple of years, it started having the opposite effect.  As to whether I accumulated any generalized intelligence increase, well…  recalling some of my decisions during those times, I doubt it.

In some of my interviews for the M2k History Project, I ask people if Virtual Reality and Smart Drugs let us down… or did we let them down.  One interesting response came from Jim English, a Mondo 2000 friend involved — then and now — in the vitamin and nutrient business: I think that the us part that failed were that we are a nation of fads. And smart drugs and smart drinks were a big fad, and everyone wanted to go, ‘Oh, I had the smart drink. I had the… I had the Ginko a Go-Go with the such-and-such. I had the oxygen cocktail. I had this…’ And people embraced the stuff, and then I think as soon as it started to become a commercial product — you started to see stuff showing up on shelves, I think you saw a concomitant backlash, which was, ‘Well, it’s not really making me smarter. I can dance harder, but, you know, I’m just as exhausted the next day.’ I think the expectations kind of combined with the sense to  be the first to adopt something, and the first to reject something. That’s how you keep your credibility. You know? ‘Well, I’m beyond that.’

“The hipster crowd backed away. ‘I’m into smart drinks. Oh, now I’m into deprynil. Now I’m into heroin.’ You know, you need to keep moving the bar forward or you lose your credibility. And I think a lot of people that I worked with kind of did that.”

Despite the fact that Smart Drugs were a big thing, I was surprised — while checking out an old 1991 discussion in the Mondo conference on The Well — to discover dozens of participants (and most of them professional types not “hippies,” mind you) waxing enthusiastically about trying them out.

Presented below are just some brief entries from that much longer conversation about Smart Drugs and Nutrients— some of them chosen not so much because they are representative, but because they are kind of amusing.  Btw, the discussion below is uncorrected.  People were much less dickish back then about things like misspelled words, so don’t blame the contributors below if it bothers you.  Blame yourself.

mondo.old 15: Experiences with “Smart Drugs” and Nutrients

#0 of 633: Gary Wolf (gwolf) Wed 01 May 1991 (09:15 PM)

I am writing a magazine story on “smart drugs,” including Hydergine,Piracetam,Choline, Vasopressin, and various nutrients and amino acids.  Any experiences you would like to share for publication?

mondo.old 15: Experiences with “Smart Drugs” and Nutrients

#1 of 633: Gary Wolf (gwolf) Wed 01 May 1991 (09:26 PM)

Yesterday, I drank a packet of Dirk and Sandy’s *Focus* plus a packet of *Go For It*.  This translates into a big dose of choline and Phenylalanine, plus cofactors.  I felt a big lift and worked for many more hours than usual.

Today, I spoke with a nutritionist at UCSF who assured me that no scientific evidence exists linking amino acids to psychoactive effects.  I also read several scientific papers asserting that the effects of nootropics such as piracetam have not yet been conclusively demonstrated.  Am I experiencing a placebo effect?  Also, I recently went to a party where various smart drugs were served to a hip, young, club-hopping crowd.  I wonder if these mild forms of recreational pharmaceuticals will capture their interest.  Tonight, I drank a packet of Dirk and Sandy’s *Be Your Best*, which contains arginine, and then went to the gym and played two hours of basketball.  I didn’t notice much of an effect.  Perhaps a little extra perspiration.  I also have ten piracetam tablets hanging around and am waiting for an appropriate moment to take them. I understand that they should be followed up with regular doses.  Comments?

mondo.old 15: Experiences with “Smart Drugs” and Nutrients

#4 of 633: Gary Wolf (gwolf) Thu 02 May 1991 (10:07 AM)

My understanding is that Dirk and Sandy license their name to a variety of retail companies.  *Focus* appears to be identical to *Memory Fuel* and *Go For it* is similar to *Rise and Shine*  I have noticed no effects on my libido.  I have noticed an appetite suppressing effect.  I only at one small meal yesterday, which is highly unusual.  This morning I am drinking *Rise and Shine* and *Memory Fuel.*  The experiment continues…

mondo.old 15: Experiences with “Smart Drugs” and Nutrients

#5 of 633: Mondo 2000 (rusirius) Thu 02 May 1991 (12:12 PM)

Nootropil/Piracetam works works WORKS!!!  Order it from  InHome Health Services  Box 3112  2800 Delemont  Switzerland.

Tell the nutritionist over at UCSF that, unless your dead, EVERYTHING IS PSYCHOACTIVE!!!

mondo.old 15: Experiences with “Smart Drugs” and Nutrients

#8 of 633: Gary Wolf (gwolf) Fri 03 May 1991 (01:41 PM)

.. the story is for Rolling Stone.  I would still love to hear about any experiences with smart drugs.  I suspect that there are some dedicated users out there.  The scientific evidence I have read so far seems inconclusive.  Piracetam and Hydergine definately have some effect, but the exact mechanisms are unknown and the effects vary from person to person.  Some feel nothing, some are blown away.

mondo.old 15: Experiences with “Smart Drugs” and Nutrients

#13 of 633: Mondo 2000 (rusirius) Sat 04 May 1991 (11:29 PM)

The measurement for intelligence is slippery, memory less slippery but a little wavy nonetheless.  I know pyschoactivity when I experience it though.  Can’t testify to the long term effects of this stuff though.

Smart Drugs are about to get alot of media-this year’s “virtual reality”.  & I think that smart drugs will come closer to living up to the promise & the hype, particularly if people go for Piracetan.  Remember LSD.  Chemistry is a most awesome kind of technology…

mondo.old 15: Experiences with “Smart Drugs” and Nutrients

#14 of 633: Gary Wolf (gwolf) Sun 05 May 1991 (10:34 PM)

I just spent a day in Santa Cruz with John Morgenthaller, who very generously went through his files with me and pulled some of the papers cited in his book.

We picked up three college-age hitchhikers in Santa Cruz today.  All were clean cut students who used recreational drugs regularly– the war on drugs hasn’t done so good down there

I guess.  We asked if they would be interested in smart drugs.  All of them said they wouldn’t take them without a recommendation from a friend.  An anecdote, in other words.  It’s not scientific, but its how we decide.

I also did Vasopressin for the first time today.  It had a definate, but subtle, effect.  My dose was fairly small.  I suspect this is going to be one of the popular ones.

mondo.old 15: Experiences with “Smart Drugs” and Nutrient

#mondo.old 15: Experiences with “Smart Drugs” and Nutrients

#46 of 633: Gary Wolf (gwolf) Thu 06 Jun 1991 (10:47 AM)

Question: How does Vasopressin work.  I had the pleasure of four big squirts courtesy of R.U. and now I’m curious.  It was a very pleasant experience.  I know it’s a synthetic pituitary hormone, but why should that make me happy?

mondo.old 15: Experiences with “Smart Drugs” and Nutrients

#77 of 633: Flem (flem) Sun 13 Oct 1991 (06:57 PM)

I bought some Vasopressin from Interlab.  It works best for me when I am burnt out.  It doesn’t do anything if I’m already alert.  It burns my nostrils and smells like burnt matches.  I can’t wait to get more.

mondo.old 15: Experiences with “Smart Drugs” and Nutrients

#108 of 633: Judith Milhon (stjude) Wed 22 Jan 1992 (11:27 PM)

i keep asking myself, is dilanting making me more creative, or is it just my imagination? why are all you non-epileptics doing dilantin? i have my own ideas on this, but the literature is so VAGUE. anecdotes are sweet, but can anybody sum up their experiences in the abstract, so i can understand them?

I think that dilantin focusses my attention while maintaining the latitutde and depth of that attention, unlike most stimulants.

I think that dilantin gives me an emotional detachment from tasks and events. hoop-la: it’s not an anti-depressant, but an anti-neurotic.

Anybody have any ideas on this?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piracetam

After much talk about the Placebo effect, I lashed out…

mondo.old 15: Experiences with “Smart Drugs” and Nutrients

#113 of 633: Mondo 2000 (rusirius) Tue 28 Jan 1992 (12:14 PM)

I’ll repeat myself again.  I’ve been taking drugs *seriously* for 25 years now and I know how to tell genuine psychoactive effects from wishful thinking.

See back when I bought that clump of rat shit in the park in Cambridge in ’68 we didn’t know from a placebo effect.  We called it “getting burned.”  I’m not a mark, I’m extremely skeptical and I find this no-nothing dismissiveness … well, exactly what it is.

mondo.old 15: Experiences with “Smart Drugs” and Nutrients

#114 of 633: Eugene Schoenfeld (genial) Tue 28 Jan 1992 (03:06 PM)

Ken with drugs like cocaine, LSD, amphetamines, DMT, even caffeine, the effects are so distinct that virtually all users note the effect. Among the so-called “smart” drugs, only vassopressin and the ephedrine(or other caffeine-like compounds) consistently produce notable effects, according to reports posted here on the Well(except for your reports).

I know you are aware that anecdotal reports are suspect because they don’t eliminate the placebo effect. That’s why scientifically valid studies are useful. Also, when one has a vested interest in a product, judgement is affected. Another reason for impartial trials.

So, what is the evidence that “smart” drugs have an effect, apart from the stimulants? You FEEL that they do? Come on, Ken, you’re smarter than that.

mondo.old 15: Experiences with “Smart Drugs” and Nutrients

#283 of 633: magdalen (mdln) Thu 23 Jul 1992 (10:43 PM)

I think I fall into the ‘smart drugs, dumb users’ category, myself… my experimentation has been quite limited and very random.  The interesting thing about this approach is that it’s much like a double-blind test.  I ws taking L-Phenyalanine without much of an idea of what it was supposed to DO; it just seemed like some generic smart drug to try.

I turned into a raving, seething, foaming at the mouth bitch for about five days before I connected my moods to the L-pheny.  I haven’t taken it since, though I have found that L-Cysteine is a pleasing accompaniment to long evenings of hardcore partying (like I said, I’m a dumb user), and it’s nice to take some the morning after as well with my first cup of coffee.

mondo.old 15: Experiences with “Smart Drugs” and Nutrients

# 285 of 633: Mondo 2000 (rusirius) Fri 24 Jul 1992 (10:53 AM)

I *like* raving, seething, foaming  at the mouth bitches.

 

This being Mondo, the talk turns naturally to LSD

 

mondo.old 15: Experiences with “Smart Drugs” and Nutrients

# 423 of 633: Mondo 2000 (rusirius) Tue 01 Dec 1992 (02:02 AM)

A friend of mine took 1/4 hit ie 25 mics a day for awhile and found it useful.  After about a month though everything started to seem too… um *significant* and he stopped.

mondo.old 15: Experiences with “Smart Drugs” and Nutrients

#437 of 633: magdalen (mdln)  Fri 04 Dec 1992 (01:08 PM)

I used LSD as a study aid through my last two years of high school, and found it to be quite effective and, much more importantly, entertaining in that role.  I’d do 1/4 to 2/3 blotter hits as a ‘pick-me-up’ and then wander off to English class, or say write a six-page essay on _Heart of Darkness_ on a full hit.  Admittedly, this was public high school and I probably could’ve passed the courses by turning in fingerpaintings, but I found LSD to be most compatible with Humanities work.

I’ve also been known to use the sub-tripping acid technique in theatre rehearsals, both as an actor and as a director, with absolutely wonderful results.

Problems only arose when I’d try this with a batch I hadn’t yet sampled.  I remember taking the tiniest sliver of a hit to get me through an all-night pasteup session when I was editor of my school paper.  Around midnight, the editor starts fully tripping!  Yikes!  The staff was staring at me as I spent fifteen minutes absorbed in playing with a roll of Zip-o-Line…

thanks to Gary Wolf and Eugene Schoenfeld for permission to use their words and to two other friends for permission to use their words as well.