Everything about The Weird World of LSD reeks of bad faith. Everyone calls this the Reefer Madness of the hippie era, and that’s certainly true, but the deadpan hysteria of the cautionary voiceover doesn’t, in the end, have the ring of sincere belief to it. For whom was this movie really intended?
What The Weird World of LSD really is is a series of brief vignettes, sans dialogue, of people ostensibly freaking out after having taken acid. A young woman from out of town turns to LSD out of loneliness and before you know it, she is playing with three kittens—as if that were perfectly legal!! Another woman loses herself in an unattended mannequin warehouse. An overweight “art dealer” helps himself to entire table heaping with food. And so on. A good many of the women in the movie are “voluptuous,” and many of the vignettes involve them taking off their clothes or generally acting out. The whole thing feels a lot like The Twilight Zone overseen by Russ Meyer.
The score is free jazz all the way, daddy-O—there’s tons of flaring flute work here, and in general it helps make the proceedings feel even more staid than the flat black-and-white camerawork would merit on its own. The premise of the movie is that LSD unleashes one’s innermost desires and fears, and also that there’s no going back—once those desires and fears are expressed, you will have no choice but to become their slave. This concept inevitably leads to a certain surrealism in the approach, and if you squint your eyes just so you can pretend that Salvador Dalí himself shot this otherwise undistinguished footage.
LSD may induce you to frolic with kittens—WHY WERE WE NOT TOLD??
Around six minutes in, a whole sequence is shot behind what looks to be a Googie McDonald’s—I suspect it’s not the famous Googie McDonald’s in Downey, California; it looks too small to be that one. I’d love to be set right on this—was this shot in Downey?
I don’t really think that The Weird World of LSD is a lost Beat masterpiece, no, but that is a pretty cogent way of getting at a movie that’s otherwise difficult to describe. If you’re throwing a party and want to throw something kooky on the wide screen TV, you could do a lot worse than this—but I wouldn’t recommend sitting through it as you would a regular movie. It might make you lose your mind…
Sarah Schönfeld was working at a Berlin nightclub when she decided to try to find out what the various drugs people were ingesting look like. Much like the apple falling on Isaac Newton’s head, perhaps the story of Schönfeld observing an obnoxious MDMA user will someday become one of the formative myths of scientific inquiry… but somehow, I doubt it. And yet it’s awfully apt.
Schönfeld converted her art studio into a lab, and exposed various drug mixtures in liquid form to film negatives and documented the results. The photographs have been collected in a book called All You Can Feel (Kerber Press), which will be available in late August.
The results mostly conform to general predictions—the only thing missing from the LSD visualization are trails. “Fantasy + Ecstasy” looks like a road map of a fucked-up island kingdom, and cocaine supplies a blue bursting-at-the-seams effect. Others are more surprising. Pharmaceutical speed looks like a Mandelbrot pattern, which kinda makes sense. Meanwhile, adrenaline, perversely, has a sluggish feel. And do my eyes deceive me or does the crystal meth photo feature a small chunk of Walter White’s “Crystal Blue Persuasion” in what appears to be a dystopian snow globe?
Part psuedo-documentary about the Italian counterculture and drug scene (Dr. Humphry Osmond appears as himself) and part straight up LSD exploitation film, Acid Delirio Dei Sensi (“Acid, Delirium Of The Senses”) is an obscure Italian cult movie directed by Giuseppe Maria Scotese. The plot involves some free-livin’, free-lovin’ hippies who get mixed up with the Mafia.
Acid Delirio Dei Sensi is one of those films best known for its poster art—some examples here—which is highly collectible and molto expensive. The little-seen film itself, however is surprisingly decent.
If you click on subtitles, an English translation will appear. Buy Acid Delirio Dei Sensi on DVD at ModCinema.
After watching this video of a man tripping his balls off in the Thar Desert (northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent), you kind of walk away from it… happy? He seems to be having the time of his life. His headphones are (obviously) plugged right in to the Akashic Record player. Dude is having a good time.
There are so many choice quotes from this short video that I’m not going to type them out for you (don’t want to spoil ‘em). Just watch, listen and learn from your new Spiritual Guide.
From the YouTube description:
it was the most beautiful and yet frightening experience of my life, i spend whole day from Noon 12 & whole night in Thar Desert, i was alone in whole Thar Desert accept lots of Scorpion ,insects lolz, snakes come in Desert not in this month but in may ,june haaaa heeee but i will advice Tripping in Desert is not for everyone ,it can be tough job,as body need proper nourishment water etc also, during tripping, and my water got finished lolz very earlier , i bear hotness of desert as well as coldness in night, .The Dose was very Strong & Visions were like anything spectular i had seen ever seen…..knowledge , beauty , & Universal Love, as well as Death & Destruction. lolz it was all Paradoxical.
There’s actually a longer description of this guy’s trip. You can read it here.
For the first time in 40 years, scientists have carried out controlled medical experiments on the hallucinogenic drug LSD, and the results have been surprisingly positive.
The drug was used as part of a psychotherapy course to treat severe depression in terminally ill cancer patients.
In a pilot test, twelve men and women at a private practice in Solothurn, Switzerland, were given high doses of LSD. The results showed a 20 percent reduction in symptoms associated with extreme anxiety relating to their medical condition.
The test also revealed that lysergic acid diethylamide had no severe side effects.
However, it was found that when issued with low doses of LSD, the participants’ depressive symptoms became worse.
The study, published in the Journal of Nervous and Medical Disease, concluded:
These results indicate that when administered safely in a methodologically rigorous medically supervised psychotherapeutic setting, LSD can reduce anxiety, suggesting that larger controlled studies are warranted.
Psychiatrist Peter Gasser, who is based at the practice in Switzerland, said that eleven of the twelve participants involved in the trial had never taken LSD before, but all of them would take LSD again and would recommend the drug to other patients who were in a similar medical situation:
All of them said after 12 months of taking the drug that it was worth taking part in the trial and they would come again if asked. They also said they would recommend it for other people in the same position as themselves.
We showed that all the treatments were safe and any adverse effects were only mild and temporary – they did not last for more than a day or so. It can be a safe treatment with good efficacy, and it justifies further research with a larger number of people.
Gasser explained that eight of the trial were given a full dose of LSD, while four were given an “active placebo.” The placebo group showed an increase in their anxiety symptoms associated with depressive illness. These four were subsequently given a high dose of LSD.
One participant described his experience as “mystical,” and Dr. Gasser said all of the patients felt better in terms of their anxiety about being terminally ill. This improvement lasted for “at least twelve months after the therapy.”
They said in general they felt relief. They felt an intense process of what to do with the rest of their limited time and who they want to spend it with.
The last time medical trials used LSD on terminally ill patients was the early 1960s. LSD was made illegal in the United States in 1966.
Below, archive footage of one of the many LSD trials carried out in the 1960s.
Based on genuine experiments that took place in the 1950s, Kennaway’s The Mind Benders dealt with the use of sensory deprivation tanks as a means to brainwash individuals—ultimately to be used by friendly western governments for covert political means. Though the story was couched within a tale of love and infidelity, it was highly controversial when first released in 1963, and both book and film received undeservedly harsh, misguided and reactionary condemnation.
A few years later, and the FDA produced The Mind-Benders: LSD and the Hallucinogens, which is variously dated as 1967, 1968 or 1970. The title alone sounds like a musical line-up. While it was okay for governments to mess with people’s minds, the youth taking acid or peyote and alike on their own, well that was a definite no-no.
It doesn’t really work as an anti-drug film, as the interviewees seem like nice people, from nice homes, who probably had nice lives, nice jobs, and who generally had a nice time with the drugs. They tell us about their experiences both good, bad and “really frightening,” after taking LSD for kicks, or to learn something about themselves or life.
One interviewee claims some people will flip out, and people may die, but they really should read up on what they’re getting into. Sounds like sensible advice. While others talk about bright lights, lights brighter than the sun; or everything vibrating, falling apart, and eyes like an electronic microscope; or the patterns and connections the hallucinogenic experience illuminates. And of course, the scary part, where people think they are dead, or fear that everything can break or can become one, and really far out things can just disappear. A bit like the Internet then.
“Good production values give this drug scare film from 1967 the sheen of respectability, but it’s still full of the same old bullshit. At a time when kids needed a Psychedelics For Dummies instructional manual, we got the kind of spooky propaganda that caused more bummers than strychnine-laced STP.”
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.
I’m sure by now, a lot of us have seen self-portraits drawn during the course of LSD trips. The majority of examples I could find were all done by men. So, it’s pretty interesting to see a lady’s take on the lysergic experience.
As an introduction to Martin Witz’s outstanding documentary on Albert Hoffman, The Substance, I thought I’d share my experience of ingesting 20,000 mics or so of White Lightening acid when I was 16 years old—my first religious experience and one that reverberates through my being still to this day.
It was a typically hot and humid Washington D.C. afternoon in 1967 and John and I were packing what was reputed to be Owsley’s latest batch of White Lightening acid into gelatin caps. The source was close to Owsley and the quality was certainly of Owsley’s caliber. We had no reason to believe it was anything less. John was my high school English teacher and he had good connections in San Francisco. He’d fly there regularly to purchase the latest batch of acid from Owsley’s people: Licorice-flavored Batman acid, purple tabs, orange tabs, white tabs, window pane, blotter, white powder… Was it all certified Owsley? We liked to think so.
Filling double 0 caps with fine LSD-laced powder was tricky business. We wore surgical gloves and masks so the acid wouldn’t get into our mouths or the pores of our skin. White Lightening was extremely pure and powerful LSD and the pile we were working with contained several thousand doses (at approx. 500 mics per dose). It wasn’t a precise system but we were careful. Packing the caps just so, not too tight, not too loose.
At one point, we stopped to take a break. There was a fan in the room that kept the humid air circulating and relatively dry. It was cautiously pointed away from the table. I had taken off my mask to get some air and was feeling slightly high from being exposed to some of the powder. John was feeling higher and did something stupid or, depending on how look at it, divine. He got up and absent-mindedly turned the fan in the direction of the table and the pile of acid. The White Lightening immediately became a psychedelic dust storm spinning toward my face and into my mouth and eyes. I ran to the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. I looked like Marcel Marceau. But this wasn’t clown makeup. This was several thousand micrograms of high grade LSD. I blurted out “oh shit” and it was punctuated by a puff of white dust.
I started splashing my face with water, irrigating my eyes and washing out my mouth. But, it didn’t help. The acid was kicking in and I began the ultimate ego death trip.
Timothy Leary said if you didn’t go through a death trip experience on LSD you hadn’t taken enough. Well, I had. I sat on John’s living room floor and for what seemed like an eternity (and it was, relatively speaking) I died, was reborn, died again, born again, flipping the metaphysical television dial from cosmic station to cosmic station, whipping through the Bardo planes while hungry ghosts growled and laughed and mocked and danced and poked at me with their long ancient galactic fingers, chakras opening/closing, kundalini doing the serpent power mambo up my spinal cord, heart unfolding like a giant pulsing red lotus. I was passing through dimensions not even Rod Serling could imagine. Walls shimmered and breathed, rainbows everywhere, mandalas spinning like heavenly roulette wheels… I was so fucking high! And as far OUT and IN as I went, I remained calm. I was so overwhelmed that my ego made no attempt to resist. I was without fear. I felt at one with everything: huge, expansive, complete and unbounded, totally absorbed by the entirety of the Universe. GOD, or whatever you want to call it, wasn’t somewhere out there, it was suffusing me, penetrating me and I was dissolving into its essence. I was in that moment of complete union with all things. I was no longer functioning as a separate entity; there was no fear because the one who did the fearing no longer existed. I was complete in my absolute non-existence. This was the white light experience where the ego is absorbed into the infinite molecular dance of absolute reality.
Enlightenment doesn’t happen to you because there’s no “you” for it to happen to. Enlightenment is there always. It’s that door of perception you walk through and suddenly disappear into. One moment you’re on the diving board. The next, you’re in the ocean.
12 hours later as I started to “come down,” I felt exhausted but refreshed, renewed and reborn. Within a matter of days, I returned to being my usual egocentric little self. But, I had had a genuine religious experience, one that has lingered throughout the years and one I often return to in small ways to put things into their proper perspective. LSD was wonderful. I tremble still in awe of its magic and often dream of finding some really pure acid out there… if it still exists. The Church of My Brain could use a nice house-cleaning.
The Substance successfully toured film festivals last year to much acclaim. It’s a terrific movie and I hope that more like it get made. Society as a whole need to re-address the use of psychedelics and acknowledge their undeniable benefits. LSD is a life-changer and there’s plenty of lives that need changing. I know mine did.
My feelings about the Grateful Dead are not complicated. I like a lot of their music just fine, but it was their audience that turned me off.
I never got into that whole spinning hippies/Hacky Sack patchouli vibe, but I love the shit out of Workingman’s Dead, Anthem of the Sun, American Beauty, Live Dead and Terrapin Station. Notwithstanding the above, what I did like about Deadheads was when the tie-died circus came to the New York area, all of sudden there would be plentiful amounts of blotter acid, quality mescaline, DMT and opium around for weeks afterwards…
Drugs. Which brings me to the media below, recordings made of The Grateful Dead and Ken Kesey and The Merry Pranksters at the infamous San Francisco “Acid Tests,” as immortalized in Tom Wolfe’s classic book of “new journalism,” The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.
This is the Dead in 1966, some of the earliest recordings that exist of the group, but what makes these tapes of even greater historical interest is that this is the soundtrack, essentially, of the “early adopters” of the psychedelic culture getting turned on together, as large groups gathered together in one place.
Jerry Garden—apparently a man who enjoys both fine dining and tripping—reviews The Sparrow restaurant located in Plateau Mont-Royal, Montréal.
Jerry Garden starts out with “Just finished eating at sparrow.” I imagine Jerry tripping feverishly and saying to himself, “Must. Get. Back. Home. And. Write. Review. For. The. Sparrow.”
Please enjoy Jerry’s review of The Sparrow via Urban Spoon:
Just finished eating at sparrow and had a great time! I must say that this is the best restaurant in Montreal to attend while high on acid.
My dining partner and I dropped two tabs of LSD right before entering the bar. It’s probably a good thing that the waitress took a half hour to come to our table as by that point we were tripping balls. I ordered a st Ambroise oatmeal stout and my friend ordered a varietal of scotch. It was while he was ordering that I noticed that the flowery print on her shirt seemed to meld into the extravagant wallpaper (which also featured sounds of tw rainforest and real bird calls).
For an entree, I ordered the BLT and she got the hamburger. My BLT was great and the overflowing boar bacon juice moisturizer my hands nicely. My dining partner could not approach her burger as they kept returning it too rare (she swears that the patty was pulsating and full of blood, perhaps still alive).
After we finished, we waited for what seeme like forever before we got the bill. To our amazing surprise, the bill had been there the whole time and the waitress abruptly asked us to settle up. I was simply having too great a time with the ceiling fans and over-the-top wall paper! Sparrow rules, as does LSD.
I got pretty confused while trying to sort out the bills in my wallet as the colors seemed to bleed together and almost speak to me… But our waitress was so helpful with the math!
I highly recommend this restaurant for anyone high on acid!
The documentary How To Go Out Of Your Mind - The LSD Crisis was made for Canadian TV in 1966 and features some great footage of Tim Leary, Richard Alpert and Ralph Meltzner on the grounds of the legendary Millbrook estate.
I remember my first acid trip vividly: Falls Church, Va., 1967, half a tab of Monterey Purple, listening to the Doors’ Strange Days and taking a beautiful early evening walk down a garden path blooming with the reddest roses I’d ever seen. From that day on, my relationship to the world around me was far more sensual and connected. The only “LSD crisis” I ever experienced was trying to get my hands on more.