Acid Heroes: the Legends of LSD

September 20, 2014

Remember how Lucy was always able to talk Charlie Brown into taking a kick at the football?

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 8:40 pm
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Photo: Moo Cat, the slightly nuerotic and aggro feral cat.  What can I say.  She had a wider range of intense emotions than most cats.  Including affection.  Just very high-strung.

Moo Cat. Refusing to take no for an answer. As usual.

I go through this just about every night.

I get to my campsite around midnight.  Crawl into my sleeping bag.  And I’m just about to go to sleep.  When Moo Cat, the feral cat, shows up.  She immediately starts meowing at me.  It’s her “FEED ME!   FEED ME!” meow.  I tell her:  “You know what’s going to happen if I take out the cat food now.”   But she persists with her meowing.   To hear her crying you’d think she was starving to death.  Her stomach is bulging out on both sides from all the food I feed her.  But to hear her, you’d think there was no way she could make it all way through the night until her breakfast feeding in the morning. . . .   I crawl all the way into my sleeping bag and cover my head under the covers because I know what’s coming next.  Moo Cat starts taking these “playful” little jabs with her claws in the general direction of my head, along with even more persistent pleadings. . .   Finally, I get up and say:  “All right already!”  Open up a big can of cat food and dump it into the cat food dish.   Moo Cat eagerly takes 4 or  5 big gulps of the cat food.  Then she suddenly bolts off into the woods in a panic.  This big mob of hairy raccoons immediately pops up out of nowhere and descends on the cat food and spends the next 15 minutes devouring all the cat food in a feeding frenzy of grunts and howls and shrieks. . .

I go through this same bullshit virtually every night.   What can I say.  I have a hard time turning down a cat.

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September 19, 2014

On turning 58

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:58 pm
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Alan Watts, possibly considering publishing a new book, “The Drunken Cosmology.”

This might sound stupid (I thought I’d give that stupidity thing a whirl and see if it works for me).  But one of my last remaining goals in life was to make it to 58.   Two of the acid heroes of my youth — Alan Watts and George Harrison —  both kicked the bucket at 58.  Both of whom I would later come to have decidedly mixed feelings about.  So it was important to me (for some stupid reason) to out-live both of them.

Alan Watts was pretty much a wasted-away, old man alcoholic by age 58.  In between writing all those books about how we could attain the higher states of consciousness, ole’ Al failed to mention that one of his favorite techniques, personally, was to pound endless fifths of straight vodka.

The famous Indian philosopher Krishnamurti used to go on tirades about Alan Watts and Aldous Huxley back in the ’60s.  He blamed them, rightly or wrongly, for helping to lead an entire generation astray with their books that linked psychedelic drugs to spiritual wisdom.  And he held them partially accountable for the Drug Epidemic that swept across America in the wake of the ’60s.

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The Beatles, grooving at one of those famous ’60s LSD parties.

George Harrison, along with them other Beatles, was another one who greatly popularized the notion of LSD to a generation of youth.  People forget, in 1965 and 1966, the Beatles had an audience primarily of millions of prepubescent little kids.  Then, just a year later, they’re singing songs exstoling  the magical (as well as mystical and mysterious) virtues of LSD.  I remember as a 10 year old boy watching the Beatles Saturday Morning Cartoon Show,  and there were the cartoon Lads, singing “Tomorrow Never Knows.”  The lyrics taken practically word-for-word from Dr. Timothy Leary’s “The Psychedelic Experience”  — which he wrote as a How-To-Take-An-LSD-Trip guide.  Which is exactly how John Lennon intended the song . . . .   Nowadays, we’ve banned the Joe Camel cartoon character out of concern that it might influence children to smoke Camel cigarettes.  And yet, very little consideration was given to the potentially tragic aspects of the Beatles singing their LSD hymns to an audience of millions of kiddies.

After John Lennon’s murder in 1980 (by a guy my age who went nuts partially from gobbling down LSD by the handful back when he was a budding 14-year–old Beatlemaniac grooving to the Magical Mystery trip) George Harrison famously opined:  “This would have never happened if John had stayed in England.”  Shortly after, another Beatles-obsessed nut came within inches of murdering George in his English mansion.  Which no doubt contributed to George’s premature demise at age 58.

And me?  Somehow I’ve bucked the odds just to still be walking on two legs on God’s green earth at age 58.  Considering some of the demographics I’ve been in over the years — smoker, drinker, druggie, starving artist, long-time homeless — my life expectancy probably should have been around 40.

And if anybody just wants to write this rant off as, Sour Turd Blames Famous Celebrities For His Own Degenerate Drug Use, there’s probably more than an element of truth in that, too.

 

The Eucalyptus Grove

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:23 pm
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Photo: Whenever I come to Eucalyptus Grove on the Berkeley campus I always have a weird acid flashback to 1993.  At the time I used to like to take LSD and come out here with my guitar and sing my weird songs to the cosmos.  I had this stupid idea of recording an album of my original music. It was going to be my psychedelic masterpiece.  And I planned on calling it "Private Pepper."  As sort of a pun.  Because music had been a private little thing with me. . . This friend of mine had built his own home-recording studio with an 8-track reel-to-real and DATS and all kinds of amazing toys.  And we recorded about 12 of my hit songs.  And he added all sorts of amazing psychedelic effects.  And I swear to God, if you took enough drugs it actually sounded like music. . . .But anyways, I was remembering one haunting song I used to sing here in the Grove back in the olden days of 1993.  It was called "We're Never Coming Down."  Because that was one of the stupid things I aspired to back then.  I believed that the psychedelic state was this expanded level of consciousness, so I wanted to permanently attain that state.  To get high and never come down. . . Course it didn't occur to me at the time.  The other side of the bargain.  That you could get high and never come back to earth.

Whenever I come to the Eucalyptus Grove on the Berkeley campus I always have a weird acid flashback to 1993.  At the time, I used to like to take LSD and come out here with my guitar and sing my weird songs to the cosmos.

I had this stupid idea back then of recording an album of original music.  It was going to be my psychedelic masterpiece.  I planned on calling it “Private Pepper.”   As sort of a pun.  Because I was aspiring towards that psychedelic Beatles sound.  And because my music had been a private little thing with me that I rarely shared with the public.  This friend of mine had built a home-recording studio with an 8-track reel-to-reel tape recorder and DATs and all kinds of amazing toys.  So we recorded 12 of my hit songs.  And he added all sorts of amazing psychedelic effects.   And I swear to God, if you took enough drugs it actually sounded like music.

But anyways, I was remembering one haunting song I used to sing here in the Grove back in the olden days of 1993.  It was called “We’re Never Coming Down.”  Because that was one of the stupid things I aspired to back then.  I believed that the psychedelic state was this expanded level of consciousness.  So I wanted to permanently attain that state.  “To get high and never come down,” as Richard “Ram Dass” Alpert used to put it.

Course it didn’t occur to me at the time.  The other side of the bargain.  That you could get high and never come back to earth.

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September 18, 2014

The first rain of the year

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 5:28 pm
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Photo: The first rain of the year last night.  Just a little sprinkle really.  But enough to inspire panic and dread in the hearts of street people. . . It's like spotting the first few enemy invaders way off in the distance.  But knowing the hordes are right behind them.  And they'll be descending on you all to soon.  Wave after wave of them.  And its going to be a battle to the death. . , I remember a couple winters ago we got like 35 inches of rain.  And I was outdoors for every inch of it.  It seemed to go on forever that year.  This 8-month ordeal. , . The worst thing is:  You make one mistake and you can end up spending the next several weeks staggering around in wet socks and sleeping in a wet sleeping bag. . . . Seems like every year there will be one oldtimer that doesn't make it through the winter.  I remember a couple years ago, 2009, it was New York, this little black guy who died of exposure in a doorway.  Right around Christmas which added a poignant touch.  New York had been around the Telegraph scene forever.  About 50.. For a little guy he had this amazingly booming, bullfrog voice.  Like he had a megaphone in his diaphram.  And this explosive, braying laughter.  Usually smiling.  Started every sentence with "HEY!"  Often worked odd jobs for the street vendors or Tele businesses.  Sweeping the sidewalks, etc.  Usually carrying his conga drum slung over his shoulder.  In the evening he'd find a quiet place to smoke his weed and drink his Olde English.  During the day he'd often hang out in the campus cafeteria with the black guy who was the head janitor at the Student Union building. . . I was out of town that winter so I asked the guy what happened to New York.  And he filled me in on the details.   "New York was my best friend," he said. . . .Another winter is coming fast.

The first rain of the year last night.  Just a little sprinkle really.  But enough to inspire panic and dread in the hearts of the street people. . .  Its like spotting the first few enemy invaders way off in the distance.  But knowing the hordes are right behind them.  And they’ll be descending on you all too soon.  Wave after wave of them.  And it’s going to be a battle to the death.

I remember a couple of winters ago we got like  35 inches of rain.  And I was outdoors for every inch of it.  It seemed to go on forever that year.  This 8-month ordeal . . .  The worst thing is:  You make one mistake and you can end up spending the next several weeks staggering around in wet socks and sleeping in a wet sleeping bag.

Seems like every year there will be one old-timer that doesn’t make it through the winter.  I remember a couple years ago, 2009, it was New York, this little black guy who died of exposure in a doorway.  Right around Christmas, which added a poignant touch.  New York had been around the Telegraph Avenue scene forever.  About 50.  For a little guy he had this amazingly booming voice.  Like he had a megaphone in his diaphragm.  You could hear him from a block away.  And this explosive, braying laughter.  Usually smiling.  Started every sentence with “HEY!”  Often worked odd jobs for the street vendors and Tele businesses.  Sweeping sidewalks, etc.  Usually carrying his conga drum slung over his shoulder.  In the evening he’d find a quiet place to smoke his weed and drink his Olde English.  During the day he’d often hang out in the campus cafeteria with the black guy who was the head janitor at the Student Union building. . . .  I was out of town that winter so I asked the guy what happened to New York.  And he filled me in on the details.  “New York was my best friend,” he said.

Another winter is coming fast.

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Telegraph Avenue street music

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 12:15 am
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Click on pictures to play video (Warning: the settings are on loud so you might wanna turn the volume down) 
“I said Doc-TAH!!”
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Telegraph Avenue street performers.
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Berkeley street musician.
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This really pissed me off. There was this smokin’ African street band playing on Telegraph on Sunday. Which I dutifully filmed. But when I played it back I realized — much to my chagrin — that the camera lens was set backwards aimed at me. So you get 1 minute and 19 seconds of wonderful music. Along with a close-up of my fucking face. Its an outrage. And not the first time this has happened. As much as I enjoy the concept of “selfies,” this has got to stop. . . . The problem is: when I take cellphone photos when there’s sunlight, there’s so much glare I can never see a damn thing through the lens. Are all cell phones like this? And is there anything I can do about it? See More
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Telegraph Avenue street music. A little blues for a Sunday afternoon.
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Ace Backwords jamming out some chords on the old guitar.
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September 12, 2014

Feral territorial pissing

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:33 pm
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  • Moo Cat, growling. She has such an expressive face, you can see how angry she is. Her attitude is: “It’s Moo Cat’s world, we just live in it.” She always gives me a dirty look whenever I feed the other feral cats. Like: “Why the hell are you doing that? It only encourages them!”

Photo: Moher feral   That rightfully should be hers, and hers alone.  Very upsetting to her.

Moo Cat. Wildly indignant. This other feral cat is daring to approach the catfood dish. That should rightfully be her’s, and her’s alone.

 aside from her exist on this plane of reality.

Moo Cat pissed. Can’t understand why other cats aside from her exist on this plane of reality.

r feral cat dares to enter her domain.

The evil one, Moo cat, grumbling and growling as another feral cat dares to enter her domain. . . . I learn a lot from observing my feral cats. They enact the same basic dramas that humans enact. But on a simpler and more basic level. Which makes them a little easier to understand.

Photo: Feral kitten.  Frankly, the last thing I need.  But at least there's one nice thing about it.  Blondie, the mother, who's about 50 in human years, was starting to get a little jaded.  As aging cats can get.  But this morning she was romping around the woods like a playful kitten.  Scratching on tree trunks and frollicking around.  And watching over her kitten like a proud mama, as the kitten feasted away at the catfood dish.  I could tell it put a little spring in her step.

This is interesting to me. Generally the feral cats are very aggressive when it comes to fighting over the catfood. If one cat is at the catfood dish first, and then another cat shows up, the second cat will approach the dish VERY slowly and cautiously. The first cat will start making that gutteral, warning cat sound. That translates into English as, “I am not particularly pleased to see your bitch-ass cat ass entering my world and would much prefer if you would begone and leave me in peace to enjoy all this delicious catfood for myself.” It’s a tense moment. , . . But I’ve noticed when one of the kittens approaches the catfood, the adult cats don’t pull that agressive, macho, alpha-cat routine. In fact they back off and defer to the kitten. Let the kitten help itself to the food. . . I can understand when the Mama cat does this, She’s very protective of her litter. But the other cats do this too. Even the ever aggro Moo Cat. Who, frankly, always acts like an asshole to the other cats. . . . Does anyone know if this is typical cat behavior? Being extra supportive towards the kittens. And not getting into pecking wars with them. . . My sample size is too small to come up with any hard and fast conclusions.

September 11, 2014

Greyhound Bus trips

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:00 pm
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Photo: Fuck.

I was just telling my little sister about what a great time I had during my trip to Humboldt County. How everything went exactly like I had planned (for once!).  And then . . .  the Greyhound bus . . .  broke down . . . . IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE!!!

Fuck.

We were about an hour from the nearest town.  But the bus driver told us not to worry.  “Another bus will be here to pick us up in about 7 or 8 hours.”

Fuck.

Actually, it turned out pretty cool.  Since I had time to kill, I hiked off into the woods to see what was out there.  Turned out at the bottom of the hill was a mountain stream.   I took off my clothes and went skinny-dipping.  I haven’t done that in years!  It was around 90 degrees so the water felt great.  It was like one last hit of summer.

And this was even cooler.  We’d been huddling around the bus on the side of the road for about 5 hours in 90 degree heat like contestants on “Survivor.”  When this car pulled off to the side of the road.  This elderly couple got out of the car and said:  “Does anybody want some water and food?”   They had seen us stranded so they went to the next town and bought a bunch of iced bottles of water and granola bars and other food.

“When I was in trouble people always helped me out so I’m returning the favor,” said the old guy.

“What goes around comes around,” I said rather brainlessly.

I thought that was pretty darn cool.   Stuff like that almost reaffirms my faith in humanity.  It’s weird when everything goes wrong, and yet that turns out to be the best part of the trip.  This life often makes a weird kind of sense.

Photo: I feel like I've stumbled into a scene from Deliverance.

I feel like I’ve stumbled into a scene from Deliverance.

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The Merry Men of Arcata

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 8:34 pm
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 I camped in the Redwood Park in Arcata last night.   This huge forest full of beautiful redwood trees.  There were more than a few bands of homeless camping there, who evidently have been living in the woods for some time . . .

Which often reminds me of the story of Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men.  Illegally living in Nottingham Forest and poaching the King’s venison (and watch out when the Sheriff of Nottingham pulls up in his squad car). . .   When I was a kid, it never occurred to me that the Robin Hood story was about a bunch of homeless guys.

Anyways, this annoyed me.  Last night around 10 PM, I’m hanging our amongst the redwoods in the deep, dark forest.  And I had my sleeping bag laid out on the ground, and I’m sitting on a log drinking my last beer of the night and scrolling away on my cellphone.  When these four guys wander by. Shine their flashlight at me.   “Don’t shine your flashlight in my face!” I said, rather curtly.  They proceeded to set up their tents about 20 feet from where I had planned to camp.  Evidently it didn’t concern them that I had got to this spot first.  They probably figured, there were 4 of them and only 1 of me, so too bad for me (I can guarantee they wouldn’t have tried to pull that shit if there had only been one of them).   But what the hell.  At least they offered to smoke some of their weed with me as a conciliatory peace gesture.  Which I declined.  I grabbed my sleeping bag and staggered off in the pitch darkness in search of another, more private, spot to camp . . .

You can get into some weird scenes dealing with total strangers in the deep, dark woods.

A friend of mine just emailed me a story from the Arcata newspaper.  Headline:  “Two Stabbed During Altercation Over Camp Site.”  And yeah, it can get that way sometimes.  It can get very primal out there in the wilderness.  Like the Laws of the Jungle.  A bunch of cavemen getting into territorial pissing wars.  And what further complicates the situation is:  none of us has a legal right to the turf.  We’re all illegally camping.  When you’re homeless, the only space you can claim for yourself is what you can carve out, and what you’re able to defend with your will and your cunning.

September 10, 2014

Eureka!

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:04 pm
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Photo: Welcome to the fabulous Budget Motel.  $40 a night.  Cash only. . . Its weird.  These fleabag motels offer nothing but the basic essential for human life.  Four walls.  A bed.  Water.  A toilet. . . . And cable TV. I guess most Americans would feel completely discombobulated if they had to spend an entire night without a TV set.
My first impression of Eureka, California?  Bus pulls into Eureka around 11PM.  Kind of a desolute area.  As I step out of the Greyhound bus onto the sidewalk this old guy with white hair is cursing out the bus driver (who’s in the process of pulling out people’s luggage).  “You stupid fucking idiot!”  “Ahh, fuck you!”  They’re jawing back and forth.  I have no idea what that was all about.  But it was like “Welcome to Eureka!”  I don’t know if it’s an omen or what.

Then it’s midnight and it’s dark and I’m wandering around the deserted streets of Eureka trying to figure out where I’m going to sleep.  I haven’t been up here in 17 years, so I only have a vague sense of where I am.  So I’m tring to orientate myself. . .  I’ve got a very crappy sleeping bag in my pack.  This down bag I’ve had for 20 years that has lost 75% of it’s down, so it’s pretty thin.  (On the positive side, it’s so thin, it fits easily into my little backpack.  When I’m on the road, I strive not to look “homeless” so I can blend in and out of all the different facets of society).  I figure I can always shiver through the night in a back alley if it comes to that.

I stumble across a cheap motel.  Believe it or not, I’ve never rented out a motel room before.  So I’m not sure how this works.  Left to my own devices, I’d just pull out my sleeping bag and find some cozy crack in the urban landscape to spend the night.  But I have to meet some people in the morning, so I need to look presentable. . .  Or at least make a half-assed try in that direction.  Ha ha.

The Budget Motel, says the sign.  “Cash only.”  Sounds like my kind of place.  I can see the clerk through the window, so I rap on the locked front door.  The clerk is kind of a squirrely-looking guy in a ski-knit hat.  I don’t know if he’ll rent me a room or not.  Must be weird  dealing with total strangers after midnight and exchanging money in seedy neighborhoods.  So there’s a certain amount of tension and distrust.    Kind of reminded me of a late-night drug deal.  As luck would have it, he said:  “We have one last room.  You can have it  if you have a California picture ID and exact change.  I have absolutely no change.”  You can tell he was nervous about taking out any cash.  Probably paranoid he was being set up for a late-night robbery.

 He gives me the keys to room 215.  “It’s up there on the second floor down the second hallway.”  He goes outside to the parking lot and points towards the room.  I climb the stairs, put the key in the slot, open the door and there it is!  The flophouse motel room right out of central casting.   Double-bed with ratty blanket that takes up almost the entire room, tiny bathroom, and a strange, undefinable smell.  Plus cable TV.  Beautiful. . . . It’s weird.  These fleabag motels offer nothing but the basic essentials for human life.  Four walls.  A bed.  Water.  A toilet. . . . .  And cable TV.  I guess most Americans would feel completely discombobulated if they had to spend an entire night without a TV set.
I can’t believe I actually pulled it off and that things are actually going as planned (for once!!).
I strip naked and climb under the covers.   The bed is amazingly comfortable.  Perfect mattress.  Exact right firmness (I hate saggy mattresses.  I often prefer to sleep on the floor.)  I haven’t slept in a bed in 2 months so this is a decadent luxury.  I spin the channels on the TV a few times just to see if anything new was happening (I haven’t watched TV in 25 years).  Spotted David Letterman interviewing some blonde actress.  He’s OLD!  Last time I saw  him he was like a bushy-haired, wise-alleck frat boy.  And on another channel they were advertising a deluxe set of DVDs of the old Ed Sullivan show.  For “merely $19.99!”  And get this?  They will deliver it to you “absolutely free!”

I turned the TV off and immediately fell asleep.  Had extremely weird and violent dreams.  I figured the motel room was probably haunted from all the weird people, and all the weird things that had happened in this room over the years.

Now it’s 7 in the morning and it’s just starting to get light.  I can hear the traffic from Highway 101 rumbling along like the sound of the ocean, from  the other side of my shaded window.  Guess I’ll get up and see what Eureka looks like in the daylight.

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September 3, 2014

Real life. So-called

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 5:24 pm
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Post Office Closing
 

Now I’m waiting at the post office a half hour (believe it or not!!!) so that I might purchase one first class 49-cent stamp.  They have these new, improved stamp machines.  But guess what?  They don’t take cash, only credit cards.  A woman is right now having a loud argument with one of the postal worker clerks over something or other.  She storms out of the post office shouting:  “I AM FUCKING SICK OF THIS SHIT!!”  She is going to report them to their supervisor or something.   That’ll show ‘em. . . . .  This world just keeps getting better and better every day.

FINALLY they call my number.  I ask the clerk to weigh the card I’m sending just to make sure it’s not over the one-stamp limit.  She starts to put a stamp on it, and then asks:  “Is this a birthday card?”

“Why, yes it is,” I said.

“Here.  Let me put one of our special birthday stamps on it,” she said.  She reaches into her drawer and pulls out one of their special birthday stamps.

“Why, thank you ,” I said.  “That’s a nice little touch.”

And it was.  That was nice of her.

 
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