Lenny Bruce describes smoking DMT in UCLA lecture, 1966
05:51 am


Lenny Bruce

This wonderfully unexpected piece of counterculture history—Lenny Bruce speaking to UCLA students on February 9th, 1966—comes to us courtesy of the archives of the UCLA Communications Studies Department. It’s only been online for about a week.

This occasion would seem to have been intended to be some sort of an informal lunchtime talk from the way Bruce is so earnestly introduced, but he treats it like a stand-up gig. In fact, for the first half-hour, it’s pretty much a big chunk of the same material later released on The Berkeley Concert (recorded a few weeks prior, on December 12, 1965), but then, after an audience member asks if he’s ever taken LSD, Bruce rather candidly tells the story of smoking DMT and jumping out of a hotel window!


Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Robert Anton Wilson, David Cross talk LSD & Timothy Leary with Bill Maher on ‘Politically Incorrect’

In 1996, Robert Anton Wilson, David Cross, Mama Michelle Phillips and then-SPIN magazine publisher Bob Guccione Jr. appeared on what was intended to be a sort of Timothy Leary-themed discussion on Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect, and supposed to include Leary himself. As he was so near death at the time, Bob Wilson stepped in to take his place (and did a wonderful job). Everyone on the panel, including Maher, were personal friends with Leary, and offered charming anecdotes about their fading friend.

Unsurprisingly, much of the discussion was about drugs, in particular LSD, which Cross, RAW, Phillps and Maher are all rather strongly in favor of. Guccione Jr., on the other hand, sees drugs in a negative light, and says some stupid stuff about acid until it is pointed out to him that his opinion on LSD is about as worthwhile as the Pope opining on sex.

What is surprising is how timeless this show is. Aside from some Bill Clinton and Bob Dole references in the opening monologue—and Bill Maher’s lapels—it holds up surprisingly well. There’s a particularly good point made by David Cross who explains how it was possible for them to sit there on a TV show and say “We love acid, acid’s great!” without any fear of arrest or reprisal, largely because of Timothy Leary’s fearless advocacy of the psychedelic experience during the 1960s.

Bonus clip, Bill Maher rants about LSD and psilocybin in 2011:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett’s first psychedelic trip, captured on film
06:48 am


Pink Floyd
Syd Barrett

syd barrett's first trip
In 2000, at my favorite outré movie rental shop B-Ware Video, a cheap, bootleg-looking DVD arrived in stock, with a shoddily designed cover announcing its contents to be footage of founding Pink Floyd top dog Syd Barrett’s first psychedelic trip. I never did rent it—though I was keen to see it, I hadn’t partaken of psychedelics or even pot in years by then, so my interest wasn’t so great that there wasn’t always something else I’d have rather rented. So a long succession of “maybe next times” turned into an unequivocal “never” when, to my heartbreak, the store closed. I attended their inventory liquidation, but though I came home with a lot of brilliant stuff, someone seems to have beaten me to snapping up that Syd Barrett DVD; I couldn’t find it, so my curiosity about the formative psychedelic experience of one of the great architects of psychedelic music went unsatisfied.

But time and YouTube heal many of those kinds of wounds, and sure enough, it’s online in all its amateurish 8mm glory. The first half of the film features some dreamy and quite lovely overexposed footage of the young Barrett and some fellow hallucinogenic travelers gamboling through a field and setting a small brush fire - kids, don’t set fires when you’re tripping at home, OK? Then, at about 5:38 of the 11:34 opus, the scene abruptly shifts to the outside of Abbey Road Studios in London, where Pink Floyd are celebrating the signing of their recording contract with EMI. It would only be a few years before Barrett’s gifts were lost to the world due to drug-fueled mental illness, and the band would go on to inconhood without him. The man who shot the footage, Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon, contributed this synopsis to the film’s IMDB page:

I am Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon and I shot this film of Syd on a visit from film school in London to my hometown, Cambridge. We were on the Gog Magog hills with a bunch of friends. David Gale is there along with Andrew Rawlinson, Russell Page, Lucy Pryor and my wife, Jenny. She’s the one in the yellow mac talking to the tree. The mushroom images are iconic and will last forever. It is an unselfconscious film. It was not planned. It just happened. The guy on the balcony is me at 101 Cromwell Road, London SW7. This footage was shot by Jenny. When David Gale wrote about 101 in The Independent he recalled: As the 60s began to generate heat, I found myself running with a fast crowd. I had moved into a flat near the Royal College of Art. I shared the flat with some close friends from Cambridge, including Syd Barrett, who was busy becoming a rock star with Pink Floyd. A few hundred yards down the street at 101 Cromwell Road, our preternaturally cool friend Nigel was running the hipster equivalent of an arty salon. Between our place and his, there passed the cream of London alternative society - poets, painters, film-makers, charlatans, activists, bores and self-styled visionaries. It was a good time for name-dropping: how could I forget the time at Nigels when I came across Allen Ginsberg asleep on a divan with a tiny white kitten on his bare chest? And wasn’t that Mick Jagger visible through the fumes? Look, there’s Nigel’s postcard from William Burroughs, who looks forward to meeting him when next he visits London! The other material is of the band outside EMI after their contract signing. It’s raw, unedited footage and stunning even so. It is silent but many people have subsequently put music to it on their youtube an google postings. Good luck to them.

I’ve heard it told that among the party with Barrett that day was the young, soon to be legendary (and sadly, as of April 2013, deceased) graphic artist Storm Thorgerson, who would go on to co-found the design group Hipgnosis, and to personally design some of the most indelible album covers in rock history, including many for Pink Floyd. But as the actual shooter’s synopsis omits that bit of rock lore, I’m becoming inclined to doubt that legend’s veracity.

The accompanying music is spacey and ambient, and though maybe more than a hair too new-agey, it underscores the film’s dreaminess well. But as is noted in the synopsis, it was added later and it’s not Pink Floyd, and so this relic may not be of significant interest to the band’s more casual fans. But as a document of one of rock music’s consummate originals, it can be enjoyable in its own right so long as your expectations for it aren’t unrealistic. Copies are available for purchase in DVD and VHS formats, though you may of course watch it right here.

Thanks to DM reader Rafael de Alday for shaking this loose from my memory banks.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
Methstorm: ‘Breaking Bad’ blue sky snow globe
01:21 pm


Breaking Bad
Snow Globes

You know, for that meth-loving snow globe collector in your life. Or maybe just for a completest Breaking Bad fan… I guess

Anywho, it’s for sale at Firebox for around $41.09.



Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
‘FLicKer’: Brion Gysin’s Dreamachine, tripping without drugs, w/ Iggy Pop, Kenneth Anger and more

Some artists, like Picasso and Dali, were discovered when they were young and their talents grew to maturity before the public eye. Sometimes, however it takes… well, dying before the art world sits up and takes notice of you, This was certainly the case with Brion Gysin, the Canadian/British painter and author who long stood in the shadows, figuratively speaking, of William S. Burroughs, his lifelong friend and collaborator. Burroughs once said that Brion Gysin was the only man he ever truly respected.

Gysin is an artist whose work must be seen in person to be truly appreciated. Of course this is said about every artist’s work, but it’s particularly true with Brion Gysin. What might appear to be random chicken scratch calligraphy when reproduced in a book, becomes ALIVE when seen in person. Seemingly careless hash marks become scenes of hundreds of people around a bonfire or a crowded Arab marketplace when you’re staring right at it.

The man was a master. And he left an awful lot of work behind. Although there were various Gysin gallery exhibits in New York while he was still alive—I recall being astonished by some large works on paper in a great 1985 show at the Tower Gallery—there was never a museum-level retrospective of Gysin’s work in the United States until 2010 at the New Museum in Manhattan:

One of the things Gysin is best know for is inventing the Dreamachine—a kinetic light sculpture that utilizes flicker effect to induce visions—a drugless turn-on.

FLicKer is a 2008 Canadian documentary about Gysin’s Dreamachine, directed by Nik Sheehan. Kenneth Anger, Marianne Faithfull, Gysin biographer John Geiger, Iggy Pop, Genesis P-Orridge, Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo, DJ Spooky and yours truly are interviewed.

H/T R.U. Sirius

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Chachi loves reefer: Scott Baio in ‘Stoned,’ 1980
07:26 am


Scott Baio

Official culture never did figure out how to talk about drug use, did it? This 1980 ABC Afterschool Special stars Scott Baio, who had become a national superstar on Happy Days. It’s the story of an uptight and unpopular high school student who, thanks to moderate drug use, learns to loosen up, make some friends, meet a pretty girl, and save his brother’s life after a potentially deadly boating accident.

Wait, that’s not right. I have my notes mixed up here. No, of course it’s the story of a productive young drone who nearly loses it all because of marijuana. A Reefer Madness for the MTV generation, which means that there’ll be some sprightly saxophone work in it somewhere, and at some point a well-meaning teacher will take a moment to “rap” with his students. Two years later, Nancy Reagan started her “Just Say No” campaign. Oy.

On YouTube the special is broken up into eight videos, and it’s missing the very beginning and the very end. You can still get the gist of it, though.



Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
‘I don’t even know where the f*ck I am’: Walt Whitman of LSD, FOUND!
08:50 am



Good gawd, there are so many choice quotes from this that I don’t even know where to begin. The LSD-induced poetry just goes… on. “You know what I mean?”

“Nothing really matters. That would mean something’s wrong.”

“I don’t play that game they’re playin’ out there,
runnin around, lookin for bullshit,
whatever they’re trying to sell on TV.
You know that’s a bunch of garbage,
now your head is all fucked up,
every time you look in the mirror, and
you don’t know who to blame.
You think it’s something to do with you.
That’s the saddest part of it all.”

“LSD or just fuckin’ being alive in general, goddammit, I dunno…
it’s fucking awesome.
It’s hard to tell anymore.”

Seriously, maybe this guy is on to something here,—reddit loves him—perhaps even ready to start a whole new religion. I’m ready for this. I’ve been waiting.

Via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
‘I Feel Good’: James Brown’s amazing, drug-fueled CNN interview, 1988
11:42 pm


James Brown

When former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was running around before his trial appearing on The Daily Show assuring Jon Stewart that he never, ever did anything wrong, he should have considered adopting the post-arrest media strategy of James Brown, as seen in this incredible interview. Considering that both Blagojevich and Brown ended up going to prison, it couldn’t have hurt! And James Brown is a hell of a lot more popular than Rod Blagojevich.

This interview on CNN’s Sonya Live! in LA occurred in May 1988, after Brown was arrested in Aiken County, South Carolina, on charges of drug possession and fleeing from the police after his wife Adrienne called 911 because he was threatening her safety. Brown was released after paying $24,000 in bail and then went to Atlanta to do this interview.

In the interview, Brown seems only dimly aware of Sonya Friedman’s questions, preferring to shout the lyrics to his songs and talk about how he “smells good ... and makes love good.” (The juxtaposition of Sonya’s “How did all this trouble begin?” and Brown’s non-sequitur answer—“Livin’ in America!”—is resonant in ways that utterly outstrip the meanings Brown may have had in mind.) If you want to see someone on TV being interviewed while high, you can hardly do better than James Brown. As in so many other things. Rod Blagojevich just wouldn’t be in the same league.

Brown’s incredible vitality is such that you’ll be excused for wondering whether this isn’t a concert appearance in addition to an interview. YouTube commenters and the like are given to identifying cocaine as the source of this live-wire act, but it was almost certainly PCP. His arrest was for possession of PCP, a substance Brown was allegedly using a lot at the time.

Just four months later, Brown was arrested again, this time on Interstate 20 (near the Georgia-South Carolina border) for carrying an unlicensed pistol and assaulting a police officer. He was sentenced to six years in prison and ended up serving three years.

To judge by R.J. Smith’s The One, Brown’s erratic conduct in the 1980s was going to land him in prison one way or another. Between 1984 and his September 1988 arrest, Adrienne Brown had to call 911 to report domestic violence a whopping twelve times.

As the undisputed father of funk, James Brown was one of the most important musicians of the twentieth century, and nobody was more electrifying live. This interview manages to be both highly amusing and a harbinger of the troubles that were just around the corner.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
If pot is legal in Colorado, then why do Denver police need robotic noses to sniff out stinky weed?
10:01 am



robot nose
Recreational cannabis is legal in Denver, Colorado, but folks are still feeling a little bit iffy about its sudden visible, and potentially sniffable, presence. The Denver police are now using an instrument called the “Nasal Ranger” (yes, that’s really what it is called), to measure and track the scent of pot in order to better enforce laws regarding smell complaints. They began using the tool fairly recently, purportedly after pot-related odor complaints more than doubled. Doubling sounds like a lot, right?

Oh wait, except that the numbers were pretty negligible to begin with.

In a city of around 634,000 people, there were 98 smell complaints in 2010, seven involved weed. In 2012, there were 288 complaints, with sixteen having to do with marihuana. While that’s an increase overall, complaints about pot actually decreased by about 1.5%, and this was all prior to the legalization of pot for recreational use. In 2013 (up until September 20th), they recorded 85 complaints, eleven of which were attributed to marijuana, a slight increase since 2010, but the city isn’t exactly being hot-boxed. And let’s be honest, at least some of those complaints were made by anti-pot tattle-tales and buttinskies. I only know a few Denverites, but none I’ve spoken to have complained of a sudden pervasive skunky smog enveloping the Mile-High City.

I looked up the Nasal Ranger, attempting to find a price, but apparently you have to request a quote, which is far too much work for an (cough) groggy young woman like myself. It sounds to me like the police department bought an expensive-ass toy in order to assuage some stuffy reactionaries. In all fairness, the Nasal Ranger actually seems like a pretty tame measure when you learn there are people in Denver attempting to pass laws making the very smell of pot punishable by up to $999 or up to a year in jail.

And at least the Nasal Ranger uses measurable data. That way, they can punish only the truly egregious odor levels—smells most likely produced by a dispensary or farm, not personal use. And at most, it’s a $2,000 fine, nothing completely outrageous. The more potentially unjust part is the provision declaring that five household complaints in a 12 hour period constitutes a violation. That could so easily abused by a few vindictive, lying, busybody neighbors.

On some level, I sympathize with a fear of overpowering smells. I grew up next to a donut factory that ran the ovens at 5 am, right when I was driving to my awful job as a hotel maid. I used love the smell of donuts, but after living in a cloying corn syrup fog for a year, I can now only stand the aroma when the odd donut craving hits me. Of course, now I live in a West Indian neighborhood, so guess what my street smells like in the summer heat? Barbecue, you racists! (Seriously, 95 degrees and a smoker full of jerk chicken in front of every brownstone.)


Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
‘Rob Ford: The Opera’ is a REAL opera
12:35 pm


Rob Ford

Rob Ford: The Opera
On Friday bOING bOING featured a YouTube video of a section of Bizet’s Carmen reworked with lyrics pertaining to the trials and tribulations of Toronto’s singular mayor, Rob Ford. Ford has become a magnet of media interest lately, due to the surfacing of videotape proving that he smoked crack, his excuse for doing so (he was in a “drunken stupor”), and so forth. Basically Rob Ford is what would happen if you took your typical NCAA linebacker and made him mayor of one of the largest cities in North America.

The new Rob Ford version of Carmen is funny, but, to give you an idea of how long Torontans have been dealing with the insane Rob Ford phenomenon, there was an actual opera written and staged in Toronto nearly two years ago. Andrew Jaji (pictured above) played the title role.

Rob Ford
Rob Ford in costume for a Christmas performance of The Nutcracker last year

On January 22, 2012, the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music put on a one-time-only performance of Rob Ford: The Opera. It was written by four student composers as part of a writing workshop with the considerable assistance of Michael Patrick Albano, resident stage director of the Faculty’s opera division. Albano spoke to The Torontoist while Rob Ford: The Opera was in production:

Well, [Ford] is quite bigger than life, which is very interesting. And I don’t mean physically bigger at all. That’s not what I mean. I mean, bigger than life the way operatic characters often are. He really seems to have a spotlight following him no matter where he goes. And what’s interesting about that kind of character—the same as whether you’re talking about Rob Ford, or King Lear, or Richard Nixon, or whoever you’re talking about—is the tremendous catalyst abilities that he has. He has very strong effects on other people around him.

According to the Musical Toronto website, “It looks like the opera includes a scene where Ford goes to Heaven, to discover that God looks an awful lot like Margaret Atwood. There is another scene where Ford is judged by a jury made up of Toronto librarians.”

God, I’d love to see this thing. Until then, shaky audience video will have to do.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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