Tag Archives: LSD

Dreaming of Jerry Garcia

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Today is the anniversary of the birth of Jerry Garcia.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Jerry Garcia was a musician: player of guitars, banjos, and mandolins and a singer too. He was famous as a founding member of the Grateful Dead, but was also in Jerry Garcia Band, Old and in the Way, Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band, and New Riders of the Purple Sage.

I dreamed about Jerry just as this year’s season as a camp host started.

A couple of days before Memorial Day, I dreamed I was outside somewhere with trees. I was not in a city.

Jerry Garcia was walking around this place of my dream, smiling and happy. He was giving out LSD.

I knew him, of course. I think he knew me, but I don’t think he knew me well, like maybe we’d met once or twice, but I didn’t think he’d consider me a close friend. I wondered if he’d remember me at all. I knew he’d probably give me a hit even if he didn’t remember me because he was passing it out freely, but it would certainly be nice to be remembered by Jerry Garcia.

When he came up to me, I opened my mouth, so he could lay a hit on my tongue. I thought he’d drop a hit, maybe two, into my mouth, but he fed me I don’t know how many hits. I had little bits of paper poking from between my lips.

My feelings were torn between Oh boy! and Oh no! I was excited and scared.

How much is just enough? How much is too much?

I wondered how many hits I’d just taken, considered asking Jerry about the numbers, then decided to just go with the flow.

I heard a woman ask him in a real suck-up tone, Are you getting tickets tomorrow, Jerry?

He said, I’ve got tickets right now.

If his looks left any doubts as to who he was, the unmistakable voice erased them. It was definitely Jerry Garcia right there.

Unfortunately, I woke up before I could feel the effects of the gifts from Jerry. I wonder if the Catholic Church would view Jerry getting me high from beyond the grave cause for canonization. I bet most Deadheads would. In any case, while I didn’t wake up high, I did feel happy and at peace.

It was the first time I dreamed of Jerry, although a few weeks earlier, I’d dreamed of hearing a Grateful Dead song I believe existed only in my brain.

A couple of weeks after my dream about Jerry, I was driving when “Attics of My Life” began drifting from my speaker.

I’d not listened to “Attics of My Life” much. It wasn’t in the repertoire of songs marking my relationship with the person who really got me listening to the Dead. Since I mostly listen to music when I’m driving and I want upbeat rhythms to keep me awake, I hadn’t heard the song often since I’d been on my own. But it somehow made it onto my phone with a recent importing of music, and now it was slowly swelling out of my speaker.

It’s a lovely, ethereal song, from the 1970 American Beauty album.

American Beauty (180 Gram Vinyl)

Why have I never really listened to this song before? I wondered.

Then the last verse hit and Jerry singing Robert Hunter’s words brought me to tears.

 

I’m not even sure if I can explain how I felt when I heard this song after dreaming of Jerry.

The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
(In The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics, David Dodd says Robert Hunter was asked about the meaning of this very song  Hunter replied,

…If I could say it in prose, I wouldn’t need to write the song. Poetry is evocative–it’s meant to communicate to deeper levels and approach the levels of nonverbal experience.

So I suppose if I can’t express my reaction to the song in prose, Robert Hunter did his job as a poet-songwriter perfectly.)

I felt as if Jerry and I had some connection. I know that sounds trite and cliché . But if we realize we are all connected (even if in a state of chemical alteredness), does that make it untrue? If I hear this man sing twenty years after his death and his voice moves me so strongly that my tears begin to flow, well, I maintain that’s a connection.

I also felt as if my dream brought Jerry Garcia to life, if only in my REM state brain. There he was–living, moving, smiling, talking, feeding me all the LSD I could fit in my mouth, bringing me comfort and peace. I dreamed Jerry into existence again, for however brief a time.

 

Happy birthday, Jerry.

 

 

What a Long, Strange Shopping Trip It’s Been

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I spent the night in my van in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart in a small (population less than 10,000) Southwest desert town. I woke before daybreak and bundled up for the long walk from my van to the store’s entrance.

After my visit to the restroom, I wandered through the store, trying to remember what supplies I needed. I took a shortcut through the men’s clothing department on my way to the propane canisters in the sporting good section. I ended up walking next to a wall of t-shirts and slowed down to see what was on display.

WHAT!?!?

There among the shirts featuring SpongeBob and Patrick, the Pink Floyd prism, and a kitten with a bandana around its head (captioned “Hug Life”) was a bright tie-dye with a spiral of Grateful Dead bears.

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One might think those Grateful Dead bears are all about dancing and joy and love. If one thought such a thing, one would be only partially right.

Bear (Owsley Stanley) was for a time the Grateful Dead’s sound guy. He was also, for a time, the Grateful Dead’s LSD guy. Yep, Bear was manufacturing lots and lots of delightful acid. (According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Owsley_Stanley, Bear

was the first private individual to manufacture mass quantities of LSD.[1][2][3] By his own account, between 1965 and 1967, [Bear] produced no less than 500 grams of LSD, amounting to a little over a million doses at the time.[4])

And according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grateful_Dead,

A series of stylized dancing bears was drawn by Bob Thomas as part of the back cover for the album History of the Grateful Dead, Volume One (Bear’s Choice) (1973). Thomas reported that he based the bears on a lead sort from an unknown font.[103] The bear is a reference to Owsley “Bear” Stanley, who recorded and produced the album. Bear himself wrote, “the bears on the album cover are not really ‘dancing’. I don’t know why people think they are; their positions are quite obviously those of a high-stepping march.”[97]

Those bears–dancing or not–in their most basic sense represent Bear, and Bear represents LSD to lots and lots of folks. That LSD connection might explain the bears’ bright colors and the psychedelic backgrounds often seen behind them. (Whenever I see some little kid on the lot dressed in a tiny t-shirt with one of those bears on it I snicker to myself and wonder if the Deadhead parents–or grandparents–even realized they’ve made their precious darling a walking advertisement for lab produced hallucinogens.)

So there I was in Wal-Mart, faced with tie dye and dancing bears and the Grateful Dead–representations of drug culture, hippie culture, counterculture–all before 7am.

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I wanted one of those shirts! Lord, the price was only $7.50. I pawed through the display and found a size XXL. I really wanted one of the shirts. I put the shirt on over my jacket, and it felt a little too tight. I peeled off the shirt, then the jacket, put the tie dye on over my long sleeve t-shirt. I still didn’t like the way it fit. Damn!

I put the shirt back in the stack and went about my life. Even $7.50 is not a bargain if I don’t like the way the shirt fits. But I was sure sad to not be able to sport those bears and tell folks they’d come from Wal-Mart.

I took the photos.

Eliphante Part 2

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The artist Michael Kahn spent 30 years of his life creating, while painting and residing at, the three acres known as Eliphante. The buildings and structures at Eliphante, while expressions of creativity and artistry, were also Michael’s solutions to the practical needs for work space, studio’s [sic], shelter and housing for himself and his wife Leda. Michael lived there until his death in 2007. Leda remained there until 2009, and now lives in Cottonwood AZ. (from http://www.eliphante.org/)

This post is Part 2 of the story of the afternoon I spent at Eliphante.

As I walked the grounds of Eliphante, an old delivery truck that had been turned into a storage shed caught my attention.

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Old delivery truck turned into a storage shed. Notice the signature Michael Kahn bright color paint job on the truck’s side and hood.

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I like the way it looks as if the truck may be turning to stone…or maybe the stones are turning into a truck.

One can walk out of the driver’s side of the truck and enter another storage area with a roof over it.

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At Eliphante, even the containers holding fasteners looked like art to me.

As I was taking photos in this storage area, I ran into the other guy I’d met at NeoTribal The Gathering. He looked to me like a young Timothy Olyphant (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0648249/) and made my heart beat faster. Although he seemed glad to see me, we only spoke briefly before he drifted off to do other things. Ah well, he was too young for me anyway.

In many buildings on the grounds, bits of colored glass and whole glass bottles were used to allow light into rooms, but still afford privacy. Here are some examples of such use of glass:

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As sunlight shines through the glass, colors play upon the opposite wall.

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The above photos show an inside and outside view of colored glass and bottles used as tiny windows that allow light into the room. I think the wall is made of cob or some other type of dried mud and straw construction material.

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Corner wall made from cob (or similar building material) and glass bottles.

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Unfortunately, the solar bath house was not open for bathing.

Pipedreams, “the labyrinthine art gallery” ( http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/garden/31elephante.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0) was amazing. It is composed of several rooms leading into another, each room filled with color and art.

Mosaics of glass, tile, stone, and mirrors covered some of the interior walls of Pipedreams .

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In some places light passed through colored glass set in the ceiling or walls, adding moving bits of color to the floor or opposite walls.

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I sat on the floor a long time and watched the infinitesimal changes in the patterns of colored light. The light shimmered and moved, and the entire vibe was incredibly psychedelic. As I moved through the space, I wondered how much LSD (or other hallucinogens) Michael Kahn had taken in his lifetime, or if he were just one of those people who naturally experiences life as one continual psychedelic trip.

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This keyboard was tucked in an alcove in Pipedreams. Notice the Michael Kahn signature cacophony of colors on the wall all around it. (How could anyone NOT notice those colors?)

The main room of Pipedreams reminded me of a chapel somehow. It was filled with wood (driftwood? branches?) that curved and flowed. I imagined ceremonies being held here.

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The main room in what felt like the center of Pipedreams. The other rooms flowed in and out of this one.

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This photo shows an alcove in Pipedreams which houses a large piece of art. Notice the vaginal qualities of the portal.

There were art installations in many places on the grounds of Eliphante. Some were functional (like the glass bottles imbedded in walls and the very buildings themselves), but many pieces were art for art’s sake. One of my favorites was this assemblage of wood, stones, and mirrors.

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I particularly like the shape of this creation and the juxtaposition of the natural and human-made elements.

The last major building on the property was the one that gave the whole place its name. According to http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/garden/31elephante.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0, this building is called Eliphante because of its “long, trunklike entrance made of rock and an irregularly mounded roof. ‘Aaah, Ella-fahn-tay,’ a friend joked soon after it was built, giving it a playful faux-French pronunciation.”

Unfortunately, Eliphante was closed for restoration during my visit, and I couldn’t venture inside.

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Well, yes, I can see how this building could look like an elephant (especially if viewed through a psychedelic lens).

I was able to take some photos of the exterior of Eliphante.

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The two photos above are views of some of Eliphante’s “stained glass.”

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Another view of the Eliphante trunk.

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This is probably my favorite installation at Eliphante. I like that it’s functional and can actually help a person get where she wants to go. I also like that it’s making use of old, rusted saws that look cool but aren’t being used for their original purpose. I’m impressed by the person who looked at a bunch of rusty saws and had the idea to turn them into signs.

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Hmmmm….Someone saw a rock on the trail and decided to paint it to look like an Amanita muscaria mushroom…

I exited Eliphante through this passageway to the trail to the parking area.

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Eliphante is my kind of place. I really dig so many of the aspects that make it magical: bright colors, collages and mosaics, assemblages, functional art, art not just as a lifestyle but as a way of life. I love the way art is integrated in nearly every aspect of life at Eliphante. I feel really blessed to have found this place (and the kind people who care for and maintain it) and to have been able to spend an afternoon exploring it. Of course, I am now a life member of the Eliphante community, and I plan to visit again.

I took all the photos included in this post.