Roky Erickson performing “Bo Diddley” and “Two-Headed Dog” with The Black Angels at The El Rey Theater in 2008.
The man who helped launch psychedelic music is backed-up magnificently by a band whose members were born almost two decades after he released his first single. And they’re all from Austin, Texas, where the The Akashic record of rock and roll is on replay.
Now here’s a turn up for the books: last weekend Snoop Dogg dropped a new mixtape via his Soundcloud page called “01 Tekno Euro Mixx”. That Snoop would put together a mix of European techno is in itself surprising—if he did actually mix it himself, and the lackadaisical style makes it seem plausible—but the real surprise here is, in fact, that the mix contains no European techno at all.
What we get instead is a mix of deep house, nu-disco and boogie/disco edits. Artists and remixers featured include Todd Terje, Prins Thomas, Guy Monk, Miguel Migs, 6th Borough Project, Tensake, Crazy P and Michael Jackson (there is no official tracklisting yet.) None of which have much in common with the likes of Benni Benassi or David Guetta, and even less with Dr Dre or Timbaland.
While I wouldn’t have pegged Snoop as a Body & Soul-head, there is a common theme. Back in the late 90s and early 00s, when I was playing a lot of this kind of stuff (hit me up for some mixes, Snoop!), me and my dj friends liked to refer to this type of music as “stoner house”. That did away with slightly tired prefixes “deep” and “disco” while encapsulating the music in simple, understandable terms. This is house music at its most horizontal, yet it remains functional and deeply funky. Snoop gets it, and actually this mix ain’t half bad. Light one up, lie back and boogie:
Don Juan disciple Carlos Castaneda is interviewed by the brilliant teacher and author Theodore Roszak (The Making of a Counter Culture) on Berkeley-based KPFA radio on January 30, 1969.
Venerable, groundbreaking and radical, KPFA was the coolest station to ever elevate the airwaves. Unfortunately, its owner Pacifica Radio corporation went from a progressive collective of media activists to a union-busting bunch of assholes who seem intent on destroying what made the station so extraordinary: its independent spirit. If you’re interested in the ongoing struggle between KPFA’s workers and their corporate bosses, check this out.
Okay, back to the psychedelic part of this post.
On the occasion of posting this interview with Castaneda, I’m taking the opportunity to share with you this excerpt from my memoir describing the first of many of my experiences with peyote (I was 18 at the time):
One afternoon this guy with a wild blonde afro came into the Arbor Café, a natural food restaurant where I worked in 1969. He was from Arizona and wanted to trade a bag of fresh peyote buttons for food. We made the trade. I gave him all he could eat and he gave me three dozen big fat juicy buttons. I called my dear friend John The Poet and told him about my score. That night we had our first peyote experience. An experience that taught me more about the Universe, God and my place in the grand scheme of things than all the books I’d ever read or have read since.
John came up to my apartment. In one room, which was to become John’s, I had laid the peyote buttons on a little altar I’d constructed out of a milk crate covered with Indian fabric, candles and a beautiful statue of the Buddha. We each ate 12 buttons while drinking black cherry juice to try to mask the extreme bitterness of the cactus. 12 buttons is a large quantity of mescaline for even an experienced peyote eater. We had made a serious commitment to Mescalito.
John stayed in the altar room. I went into my room and sat on the bed, which was the sole piece of furniture in my spartan digs. When the peyote came on, it came on strong. The window in my room looked out over the Bay and I could see the Chevron oil refinery in Richmond glowing in a haze of jaundiced luminosity as it spewed spires of rank sulphuric smoke. It was a futuristic vision of hell - an Etch-A-Sketch of a Boschian nightmare. I was consumed with a sense of dread and doom. But soon that dark vision was swept away by a surge of powerful euphoric energy, the beginnings of the awakening of my kundalini and the activation of my chakras.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. This sounds like some new age mumbo jumbo. But, keep in mind, this was 1969 and I was 18 years old. All the new age crapola hadn’t been written yet. There were a handful of books by scholars of Eastern mysticism on the subject of kundalini and you had to make an effort to seek out this information. I’d read a few books on kundalini, also known as serpent power - a dormant energy coiled at the base of the spine that just waits to be awakened - and I knew about seven points of energy along the spine that corresponded to bundles of nerve endings called the chakras. I’d read about this stuff, but I wasn’t sure I believed it. Well, peyote made a true believer out of me. That bitter green flesh introduced me to serpent power in precise and intricate detail. Unlike the epic acid trip I’d stumbled into back in D.C., my peyote experience was as physical as it was mental, every cell of my body was engaged in a cosmic dance.
I was in the grip of Mescalito’s magic…my body suddenly became white electricity and was humming with energy, and my spine was tingling with waves of pure ecstasy. Beautiful and perfectly detailed geometric mandalas were spinning in the space between my closed eyes. My chakras were spiraling, pulsing, sparkling and luminescent like pinwheels of light in a Fourth of July fireworks display. And when all the chakras were vibrating at the exact same frequency, none prevailing over the other, I disappeared into an infinite white light and no longer existed. Ego death.
While I was going through this extraordinary transformation, John was having a similar experience in the altar room. From to time, we’d call out to each other across what seemed to be infinite space “you still there, you still there?” Our voices faded like the industrial smoke outside my window until they were no more. Our tongues had disappeared along with the rest of us…whater “us” is.
The lesson I learned was this: when we emphasize one aspect of our being while ignoring the rest, we create ego. If our sexual energy is dominant, we create ego. If our intellect is dominant, we create ego. If our emotions are dominant , we create ego. Only when sex, heart and mind are in complete balance and harmony do we experience so called enlightenment. When all of our chakras, our energy centers, are vibrating on the same wavelength, at the same pitch, we become in tune with the cosmos.
We are refined and subtle beings not just meat and bone. Embodiment is the result of getting stuck in just one corner of our totality. The Catholic concept of original sin, the idea of humans as fallen angels, is simply the result of being out of balance. When our mind is in tune with our heart and our sexuality is in touch with both, we become one with the natural order of things and no longer exist apart from the world. That’s how it works. If you don’t believe me, eat 12 fat peyote buttons and get back to me.
The morning after Mescalito’s visit, John and I re-entered the world tenderly, with the vulnerability and openness of newborn children. We looked at each with amazement and humility. We were no longer quite as solid as we were before our peyote trip. We had been introduced to something that was so enormous in its scope and yet so pure and simple that we were both blissed out as well as bewildered.
The deal with psychedelics is that you get the Cliff Notes version of cosmic consciousness. Don’t me get me wrong, the experience is real, genuine, but it’s also just a kind of crash course giving us a quick glimpse of who we really are. Most of us, actually all of us, can’t afford to leave our jobs, family etc. to sit on a mountaintop and contemplate the nature of existence. There have been a handful of human beings who could make that commitment: Milarepa, Buddha, Jesus and a few divinely intoxicated bums who used to practice their Dharma on Bowery and Broadway back in the 70s. But, in this day and age, when there are so many forces conspiring against our attaining even the slightest insight to who we are and what has authentic value in our lives, we need guidance that can lead us to a deeper and more profound understanding of why we are here and where we are going. I suggest taking the crash course. If you can get your hungry hands on some peyote, psilocybin mushrooms or clean LSD (it exists) go for it. Don’t wait for the world to become your paradise. Throw away the travel brochure. Create your own cosmic getaway. If your head’s in the right space, Newark is just as beautiful as the beaches of Belize. But ultimately it’s up to you to follow up on the psychedelic experience and do the hard work of self-realization on a daily basis. While psychedelics do open the doors of perception, it is our mission to walk through those doors and keep walking. There are no quick fixes for what ails us. Peyote showed me the way, a cosmic road map, but I still had to do the driving.
My next peyote trip was in 1972 with the Yaqui Indians on their reservation in Tuscon during Deer Dance. This is a story I’ll share at another time.
This is a fantastic, trippy, and mind-blowing version, one which captures a dark hallucinogenic world of sixties’ psychedelia. The clip made me think of Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising, in particular Bobby Beausoleil’s soundtrack (which came later, much later), where this track could easily sit. Turn down the lights. Play Loud.
There are plenty of reasons why so many children are homeless in Ukraine. Some have been abandoned by their families. Others are victims of abuse. Whatever the reasons, each child is different, and has a unique story to tell.
There are no official statistics for the total number of children and young people living or working on the streets of Ukraine, yet various children’s charities and homeless organizations suggest the number is somewhere between 50,000 and 300,000.
David found the children living underground, seeking warmth from central heating pipes. They were ravaged by malnutrition and addicted to drugs - nasal decongestants, which they crushed down and then injected.
“When I first started to take pictures of children living like that, I knew that I wasn’t going to change the world. But I did think something would happen - that it would improve. It didn’t.”
A photograph of one street child, Yana, won UNICEF Photograph of the Year. It captured the 13-year-old only 5 days before she froze to death on the streets.
Most of the children David has documented are now dead and his photographs are the only evidence of their tragic, short lives.
Based around his photographs, David has made a powerful and moving short film, The Neglected for Channel 4 television. Produced by Nicola Black of Blackwatch Media, the film reveals the lives of a lost generation of children who live in desolation underneath the streets of Odessa.
The Pink Panther passes through the bardo planes on his spirit quest to find the true panther within…the panther of emptiness, devoid of color, clear as a drop of water on a mirror: the essence of panther.
As the old adage goes, the Nineties were just like the 60s but inverted (I think it was on Beavis & Butthead that I first heard that one?) If that was indeed true, then could it be said that the drug culture of the 90s was like that of the 60s only inverted?
Mike Doughty is a singer-songwriter and blogger who is perhaps best-known for fronting the moderately successful 90s alt-rock band Soul Coughing. Doughty’s The Book Of Drugs is a memoir looking back on his time in the band, but moreso (as the title suggests) his addictive relationship with various drugs over the years. From the relatively mild (weed, e) to the more serious (smack, later substituted by alcohol), we’re with him all the way to rehab and the sobering power of the 12-step program (here reffered to mostly as ‘the rooms.’)
This isn’t a book about the insane highs and lows of drug culture, glamorous peaks and perilous troughs - all that sort of thing has been covered in countless other books from the 60s. The Book Of Drugs is rather about the slow, persistent grind of addiction and how it wears the user down over a long period of time, a fitting tone for a book about a period when drug use was seen less as a cutting-edge activity and more a normal part of day-to-day life.
Sure, there are some celebrity cameo drug buddies here, like spliff-caning Redman and the smack-snorting Jeff Buckley (thankfully presented as a regular, fucked up human being rather than some kind of tragic demi-god), but Doughty is still tight-lipped when spilling the real beans. One of the most interesting figures in the book is the unnamed, aging rock star Doughty meets in the New York rooms and who imparts some sage advice. Doughty describes the rock star’s band as basically inventing both punk rock and glam. Hmm, who could he mean? There’s a shortlist of suitable candidates buzzing in my mind…
Doughty does go into lavish detail on the holidays he spent in the far East where his greatest ambition was to stay in his room and nod out. Well, he lavishes upon the reader the bits he can remember, which are scant. Even then, he says, he was pretty crappy at being a good junkie:
I went to the tiny (Khmer] pharmacy to clean them out. I piled box upon box of Valium onto the floor, then noticed—morepreposterous luck!—boxes of codeine. I started flipping those out of the case as well.
I heard a French-accented voice behind me. “What are you looking for?” I turned around and saw a manly, unshaven guy in mirrored shades. I said something half-assed and dismissive.
“Maybe I can help you find what you are looking for?” he said.
I snarled and kept rummaging. He shrugged and went away.
Maybe he was trying to help me in the way I wanted to be helped. who knows what that guy knew how to get—heroin? opium? Here we are in the immediate vicinity of the Golden Triangle. there were a number of basic drug-addict skills that I never got together.
Doughty’s experience of “the rooms,” and especially his squaring of an atheist’s lack of belief with the 12-step program’s insistence upon deferring to a higher power, make for some of the books highlights. In fact, towards the end of the book I was totally sold on the rooms as a potential lifestyle-choice, and had developed an almost Marla Singer-esque desire to go and hang out at my local AA meeting.
However, for all the damage being a drug addict, smack-head and alcoholic has done to Doughty, he saves his real ire not for the drugs, or his various addictions, but for the other members of his former band (who all remain nameless to the bitter end). Some of these passages are bitterly entertaining, and again go to show that like drug consumption itself, by the time the 90s rolled around being in a band was less a glamorous calling than a slog-like routine. One just hopes that, like the drugs he has so successfully kicked, at some point in the future Doughty will be able to let go of all the pain and sadness Soul Coughing has brought him:
I’m full-bore batshit crazy with regards to Soul Coughing. If somebody says they love Soul Coughing I hear fuck you. Somebody yells out for a Soul Coughing tune during a show, I hear fuck you. If I play a Soul Coughing song and somebody whoops - just one guy - I hear fuck you. people email my own lyrics at me—“Let the man go through” or “You are listening”—oddly often (how weird is that, to blurt somebody’s own lyrics at them?), and I type back “Don’t put that one me, I’m not that guy any more, that guy is dead.”
If somebody comes up and says, I’ve been listening to you since 1996, it means I had a definitive youthful drug experience to an old CD, and now you’ll never escape that band that you loathe, and you are forever incomplete without those three hateful faces.
Mike Doughty “Na Na Nothing” (and to be fair, his solo stuff IS better!)
“In layman terms this means that in order to induce death, a marijuana smoker would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times as much marijuana as is contained in one marijuana cigarette. NIDA-supplied marijuana cigarettes weigh approximately .9 grams. A smoker would theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about fifteen minutes to induce a lethal response.”
Compare and contrast the damage that just two bottles of tequila would do to the human body (Been there, done that and won the booby prize of 4-day hangover...).
And while I’m on the topic, whereas you can see that it’s impossible for a human to OD on cannabis, the plant is HIGHLY toxic to dogs. That’s right, do not let your pooch near your stash. If you make pot brownies keep them out of your dog’s reach (Chocolate is also lethal to dogs. So are grapes and onions). If your dog eats cannabis, rush it to a pet hospital without hesitation.