(((Note from the High Priestess, Cult of Backwordness. The context here – The editing of Acid Heroes was finished, and by chance I’d run across a book by Lisa Ferguson, daughter of jazz virtuoso Maynard Ferguson, where she described her parents’ visit to Timothy Leary’s home in Massachusetts, the very weekend when Michael Hollingshead brought the first batch of LSD onto the scene. Leary and his crew had been using psilocybin up until then, so Maynard and Flo Ferguson were the first to experience acid with Leary. I copied out an excerpt from the book and sent it to Ace. He responded:)))
Michael Hollingshead and his mayo jar of pure LSD is the guy who amped up Leary’s whole trip at Harvard. He’s a murky character. Many people considered him an undercover agent. Or insane. One of those guys who left a trail of havoc in his wake everywhere he went. Leary finally got rid of him by sending him off to England, ostensibly to “turn on England” but mostly just to get him out of their hair. And Hollingshead – in one of those weird psychedelic coincidences – is the guy who gave the LSD to the Beatles’ dentist. The dentist was one of those mid-60s English swinger types. He did a lot of dental work for the Playboy bunnies who worked at a London Playboy club. And LSD was sort of the hip new drug among the stinger crowd. Guys like Cary Grant, Aldous Huxley and Henry Luce were already singing its praises – could it have a hipper cachet than that? And then, of course, the dentist slipped some of it into John and George’s drink. I think he thought it was some kind of aphrodisiac – the “love drug” as it was advertised. And John suspected he hoped it would inspire some kind of orgy. And the rest is history. I guess you could say it was a transcend – dental experience.
But it’s so weird (to me anyway) how all this stuff played out. Like Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters trying to hook up with the Beatles and turn them on to acid and their magic school bus after the Beatles’ last concert in San Francisco in 1965. And then, two years later, the Beatles unveil their own psychedelic school bus in Magical Mystery Tour.
The whole story has never been told to my satisfaction. How it all played out… it came out in these disjointed fragments. Like the Hindu story of the blind men grappling with the different parts of the elephant, trying to piece together what the Big Picture looked like from their limited perspectives.
I gave it my best shot. Tried to lay it all out, sum it all up, to the best of my abilities. But maybe I was too late. It’s like going back in time to the point where the dam broke. Trying to figure out what happened. But by that point, nobody cared. They were too busy just trying to deal with the after-effects of the deluge. The ’60s, huh? Or should I put it in quotes like I always wanted to do, “the ’60s.” This weird symbol of something that happened. In fact, a million things happening, simultaneously. Which is why my task was so insane and hopeless. To try and string out all the shattered and disjointed pieces into some kind of coherent narrative. I always figured this book would be some kind of noble failure. That was the best I could hope for. I tried. I gave it my best shot. Alas.
Well, “the song is over, I thought I’d something more to say…” as that classic “psychedelic” band Pink Floyd put it on Dark Side of the Moon. (I put “psychedelic” in quotes because, actually, Syd Barrett was the only acid-head in the band. The rest of them were boozers. And I doubt the other three members of Pink Floyd could have captured such classic “psychedelic music” if they had actually been fucked up on psychedelic drugs. Ironic, isn’t it? And now, I guess it’s nothing more than a genre. Background music to get stoned to.)
Anyway, thanks again for trying to steer the wreckage of my life to some safe harbor. I’m like some twilight ghost ship lost in some uncharted, foggy sea. You never really come back, I guess. Just ask old Syd.