As a representative relic of the ‘60s, I’m a pretty poor specimen. I smoked less pot than most of my long-haired brethren, and I never once dropped acid, though I was in the company of lots of people who did—including some of the very first pioneers of psychedelia who gathered for what were called “Acid Tests” at the Old Fillmore auditorium, where I’d joined a horde of hirsute harbingers of hippiedom to hear the Warlocks: the band that would soon thereafter reinvent themselves as The Grateful Dead. There was an enormous tub of apples at that particular gig, floating in water, and all those apples were spiked with tabs of LSD, a substance many people found absolutely necessary to make the noise the Warlocks were creating onstage tolerable.
As bad as the Dead could sometimes be later, with off-note harmonies and self-indulgent “jams,” the Warlocks were even worse. Jerry and the boys didn’t have much in the way of chops just yet. But, if you were engaged in an extended rearrangement of your brain cells, the sound they were putting down sounded pretty fuckin’ far out, man.
I refrained from trying those apples, though I did a doobie, I think, or just floated up on the contact high from the fairly tame bud everybody was smoking back before all the growers got so inventive, employing more botanical skills than anyone would have suspected they’d ever know back when they were flunking out of high school biology classes.
I dabbled in the demon weed, but I mostly didn’t like it. For one thing, there was a lot of paranoia associated with doing a doobie
in those days when nearly everyone whose ears weren’t covered by hair was suspected of being a narc. Still, potheads seemed to like the various schemes for hiding their tiny stashes of seeds, stems, and oregano-laced dime bags.
I knew a couple of people who experienced bad LSD freakouts, and I heard about others whose minds were forever blown from the experience. I was never attracted to “blowing my mind,” since that organ seemed a rather vital piece of equipment. I liked my brain, so I decided not to roll those chemical dice, thus passing up one of the defining experiences of my generation. I went to lots of rock concerts, but I did ‘em all relatively straight, if you don’t count booze.
Lenny Bruce once said that marijuana would be legal in his lifetime because he didn’t know a lawyer who didn’t smoke weed. Me neither. Nor have I met many teachers or certified public accounts or cops who didn’t smoke the stuff. In fact, we’ve hardly had a presidential candidate in either party for decades who hasn’t spent time in a purple haze.
Lenny Bruce has been dead nearly half a century, but we still have thousands of people going to jail every day for doing what damn near every politician in the country did and does on a regular basis. And that’s far fuckin’ out, dude, but it ain’t too groovy.