Acid Heroes

October 9, 2010

Acid Part 6

Filed under: Random Archives — Ace Backwords @ 4:39 am
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(Originally published in 2004)

In 1970, age 13, I started my freshman year of high school. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison all died that year, and it was supposed to be symbolic of something.  Meanwhile all the cool kids in my class mysteriously started parting their hair in the middle, as if they had received a secret signal from somewhere. And the first long-haired hippie types were seen loping around the streets of suburban New Jersey.

Well, I did in fact end up stumbling upon one of those marihuana cigarettes with the twisted ends, and I did in fact smoke it. I got stoned for the first time at age 16 at a big free Carol King concert in Central Park in New York City. I went there with two of my high school buddies, Red and Brian. We were sitting in this big field with about a half a million people sprawled out on the grass. Somebody handed me a joint and the rest is history.

I looked up from the circle of stoners and Hari Krishnas in orange skirts and shaved heads and wispy ponytails were dancing around me clasping finger cymbals. Hippies, gypsies, and Greenwich Village street freaks with golden rings pierced through their noses all drifted past my stoned-out eyeballs. It was as if that Fugs album cover from the 7th grade had somehow come to life. Carol King was bleating out her songs from a tiny stage a million miles away on the other side of the field like looking through the opposite end of a telescope. Thus began my 30-year experiment with mind-altering drugs.

Later, still very stoned, we tried to order some hotdogs from an Italian hot dog vendor. The vendor kept asking “You wanna mustard or onion?” To which Brian, in his stoned-out bewilderment (I think it was his first time too) kept answering “Munions.” The angry vendor cursed Brian out left and right as Brian stood there with his mouth open in confusion, as Red and I rolled on the sidewalk in fits of stoned-out laughter. And “munions” became an inside joke amongst our stoner crew for the rest of the school year.

In 1973 I saw the Grateful Dead for the first time with my older sister and her hippie boyfriend in this big old barn of a basketball arena in Philadelphia with clouds of pot smoke hanging from the ceiling. I remember this ancient hippie who was sitting in front of me wearing a fringed leather jacket and a bandana around his forehead and ancient owl eyes that seemed to stare off into another dimension. It was shocking in 1973 to see an entire auditorium filled with long-haired hippie freaks. I had finally stumbled onto the epicenter of the mysterious “drug culture” I had read so much about. It was like being initiated into an ancient secret society that had existed parallel to normal society since the beginning of time. The crowd cheered the loudest when the Dead sang the line “…riding that train, high on cocaine” from their hit song “Casey Jones.”

Later that summer, Brian, Red and I went to the big outdoor Watkins Glen rock festival featuring the Band, the Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead. Almost a million people showed up, it was the biggest concert of all time, even bigger than Woodstock. On the other hand, nobody would call us The Watkins Glen Generation, so it wasn’t bigger than Woodstock in that sense.

In 1974 I started my fabulous senior year of high school, and John Lennon had his last hit song before he disappeared from view, “Whatever Gets You Through the Night.” Somehow, it symbolized the difference between the ’60s and the ’70s: we were no longer soaring to the heavens, but just trying to get high in the muck. I managed to worm my way into the big high school stoner scene, I started hanging out with Donna and Suzie Q, the two biggest stoner chicks in our class, or “the two air-heads” as they were affectionately known. We spent a lot of time in the parking lot cutting class and getting stoned, then staggering around in the hallways. Donna was a total pot freak, the first of a long line of pot freaks I would meet over the years. Pot was her thing. She owned every kind of pot paraphernalia; pipes and bongs and 20 different kinds of rolling papers and roach clips and stones and do-hickies, you name it she had it. Donna was dedicated to being on the cutting edge of all  the latest technological advancements in the pot-smoking field. You wouldn’t have thought it would be that difficult to take a weed and turn it into smoke, but there you go. One day in 1974 Donna whipped out the first issue of High Times we had ever seen–if memory serves me the cover featured an Eskimo woman holding a joint. It was vaguely shocking to see our secret, and very much illegal, pot-smoking habit on the cover of a mainstream looking magazine.

Anyway, pot really tripped me out, it seemed to stimulate my intellect, I would see things in a deeper way, things I hadn’t noticed before. And I would FEEL things intensely. At first I thought I could “see through” people, see through the surface of all the high school games, to a deeper psychological reality. Then the pot turned on me and I’d get hideously self-conscious; I’d sit there in the back of the class bug-eyed, thinking that everyone could tell that I was stoned out of my gourd.

Anyway, one afternoon as we were smoking pot on “the path” behind the school Donna asked me if I wanted to try some acid  she had just scored.

“Acid?” I asked. “What’s it do to you?”

“It like makes you see trippy colors and stuff,” said Donna. “You hallucinate, like when you move your hand you see tracers and stuff.” Donna had tried acid two or three times before, so she was the expert. Well, that sounded pretty cool, seeing tracers and shit, and I had always been curious about LSD ever since I read that Beatles book back when I was 11-years-old. I wanted to see the “tangerine trees” and “marmalade skies” for myself.  I had always been fascinated by all things “’60s” reading anything I could get my hands on on the subject. LSD seemed like the missing piece that would explain all the “love” that the hippies had experienced at Woodstock, and maybe even unlock the mystery that was “Inna-Gadda-Da-Vidda.” I wanted to take the Magic Carpet Ride that all the rock stars had been singing about. Donna handed me two hits of blotter acid. “You chew it up like bubble gum then you swallow it,” she explained. We sat there on the bleachers behind the high school and waited.

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