Saturday, April 07, 2007

Happy birthday LSD

Via d at Lawyers, Guns and Money, I see that LSD is 69 years old today. Click over there to read Abbie Hoffman's reminiscences about his first trip "when Hoffman turned on and tuned in with 250 micrograms -- ten times the threshold dosage in humans." That reminds me of the time I dropped the four-way orange barrel by mistake at the Who concert that I mentioned briefly before.

As I told you at one point in life I dropped LSD in small doses, just about every day. But on special occassions, I would drop a whole tab for the full psychedelic experience. So here I was at Tanglewood in Stockbridge, MA for a Who concert. They were doing their famous rock opera, Tommy, on tour. I went with my friends from school, Eddie and Jake. Eddie was from Bristol and didn't really do drugs. He was more of an alcoholic. And Jake was a pill man. He always had a pocket full of seconals and nebutals - reds and yellow jackets I think we called them - but he never dropped acid either. Usually he just fell asleep.

Tanglewood was about a hour away from where we lived and we arrived early. We had tickets for seats inside the shed but I had come without any drugs so I set off to tour the lawn "seats" in search of some LSD. The lawn was filled with a sea of hippies and it didn't take long to score. You could always spot the trippers by the shit-eatin' grins on their faces. A guy with really long black hair and a beard handed me an orange barrel. He didn't even want any money for it and I thought what luck and popped it in my mouth and swallowed. I figured I would be peaking just about when the opening band ended.

Then the guy looked at me and said, That was a "four way barrel you know. You were supposed to split it."

Oh great, I thought to myself. Now he tells me. What was I going to do, short of vomiting? I couldn't see wasting the trip so I decided to just hold on for the ride. I thanked him and moved on. I never made it back to my seat.

The acid came on fast. My skin took on that distinct rubbery feeling within 20 minutes and the inevitable acid grin felt so big I thought it must be splitting my head in half, but no one was looking at me in horror so I wandered the grounds as long as the daylight held.

At some point, I hooked up with a group of girls that were going to try to get backstage. In fact, we did but it was so dark when we got inside, I felt like I was struck blind. I headed towards the one beam of light I could still see. It was probably the stage, because before I got there a roadie popped up out of the ground like a mushroom and took me back outdoors. Probably a good thing because my mind had become too large to be confined in such a closed space. I don't know what ever happened to those girls.

I remember walking and walking through all the hippies. Everyone looked so beautiful, like living tableaus of saints in Spanish cathedrals and the whole world looked like the sharp edges of sunlight coming through a stained glass window. I talked to people without using words and when I used words I felt like I was speaking in tongues. I wondered how we could possibly communicate so easily but I don't remember what we said.

I was at the edge of the lawn when the sun went down and the colors were so clean and beautiful, the very air was rose colored and I felt like I had stepped inside the flower. No I felt like I was the inside of a flower. I felt tears running out of my eyes like beams of light but my face wasn't wet. When it got dark I headed for the shed just as Tommy was starting but with all the rows of seats I couldn't find mine again. I just sat in an empty one that eventually someone came to claim.

So I moved on the next one and the next one and found myself close to the front row by the time the concert was nearly over. I remember sitting there watching, I think it was Roger Daltry who had on the jacket with the foot long fringe, swinging his microphone in a circular motion that made it look like a blazing tunnel to my acid-ridden eyes. Despite the constant seat changing, or maybe because of it, because I didn't really want to sit still, it was a fabulous concert and somehow I managed to get outside the shed again just before it ended.

I just stood there in the dark and made myself into a ball of light, waiting for Eddie and Jake to find me. Of course they did, they had to -- I had the car keys. They looked worried and relieved at the same time. I was still peaking like crazy. In fact it felt like I had just started peaking when normally I would have been coming down already. I could hear the grass bend as the crowd made their way to the parking lots. I handed to the keys to Eddie. "I can't drive," I said. It was the last thing I said for about eight hours.

Eddie and Jake each took a hand and walked me to the car. I don't think I ever felt so safe or protected. I remember enjoying the ride home. The lights on the passing cars lingered in the dark and made trails like slow motion fireworks. I listened to the headlights click off the reflectors on the guardrails and when we occassionally passed through the little villages with street lights, it felt like stepping for moment into a richly illustrated fairytale book, where everything is tidy and perfect. And still the acid kept coming on.

When we finally got home, I just went into my room and laid on my bed in the dark. Of course, I couldn't sleep. I lay there motionless on my side and stared at the wall until it melted away and I stepped into a place in my mind where normal boundaries of perception didn't apply. There aren't words in any human language to describe where I went for those hours. All I can say is when they tell you we live on only one plane out of millions of possible universes - believe them. I think I saw them all that night.

It was late morning the next day before I came down enough to wander back into human company. But I felt great. I lingered in the giggle stage of the trip, where the most mundane occurence could elicit peals of laughter, for a whole day and it took a whole other day and a half before every stray jutxaposition stopped feeling utterly profound - like an omen pointing to my future. I was glad in one way, because at one point I wondered if I would ever come down but when I finally did, I felt a faint pang of regret that it over.

Did it change me forever? Probably. I never looked at this world in quite the same way again.


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