I've rated them at the end of each description for saliva thickening aspects, which is what happens when your first getting off on strong acid, MDMA, DMT, or psilocybe cubensis and your mouth feels electric and your saliva slows to an aching crawl and your teeth start to clench, your pupils dilate and the hairs on your neck rise. It's natural, and electric, and your mileage may vary and it's sometimes annoying which is why I sometimes avoid these sorts of films, even though they are the very foundation of this blog's raison d'etre! But today, for example, being back at work I feel hungover and sad, just from the flashbacks induced by this first film:
2011 - ***
In 1964, three years before the summer of love, an era when, as Jimi Hendrix later lamented, there was only surf music on the radio, Ken Kesey, famous from Cuckoo's Nest, went on a magic bus trip with a gaggle of friends, an orange juice bottle spiked with LSD, and speed freak Neal Cassady at the wheel. Did beauty and truth ensue? Perhaps later, but in the beginning their magic bus looks more like it's embarking on one of those early 1960s surfer journeys, as in The Endless Summer. Everyone's all buzz cut and folkie and wearing big unflattering red and blue striped shirts and beat relic Neal Cassady seems to be like just some twisted townie ("he would never shut up") and the bus keeps breaking down, and there's endless talking instead of fixing, so half the people--smarter girls usually--get out at the first train station and head back to their 9-5 jobs.
As the good acid is finally dispensed at an Arizona watering hole, the color 16mm film flows free and some highlights include: epiphanies at Yellowstone because of a sign that says "Beware of the Bear" ("it used to be about being aware of the bear, but now it's just beware," Kesey laments); nervous "We're the only white people here" moments at a colored beach in Louisiana; a cold welcome at the ivy league estate of Tim Leary (Albert-about-to-be-Ram-Dass is nicer though); a world's fair that imagines America as an all-white Jetsons tail-finned miracle that's already outdated by the time the pranksters pull in; the growing disenchantment with speed freak Cassady and his friend the morose drunkard Jack Kerouac (Allen Ginsberg comes off as nicer though), and so forth. Kesey explains that the drugs were "part of our American personality -- you try go down deeper in the ocean and higher in the sky - these drugs were opening us up to new landscapes."
I guess you had to be there, and twisted yourself. But that's the deal --you need to be twisted to appreciate the beauty of the Magic Trip, but you'll never be as twisted, apparently, as they were. They were doing it to discover America, and then you did it to emulate them and to emulate their speedy Zen kicks because you read Dharma Bums and it moved your assemblage point and opened your third eye. After a trumped-up pot bust got him jailed, Kesey cut a deal to play his pipe and lead the rats out of town. He decreed this all had been a test, and he and his pranksters 'graduated' and the hordes of thrill-seekers and runaway dirtbags that descended on the Haight like a plague of locusts did not pass.
But is it really that simple? I'd vote we need to start recognizing the historical importance of today's dirty hedonists as legends in progress! Instead of putting Kesey's magic bus into a museum let's teach the kids to paint their own and go easing down the road. Why should the rantings of Kesey and company be gospel and today just a thing. But when Kesey notes "this wasn't literature anymore, this had jumped off the pages... and onto the streets," we can snicker and believe it at the same time. In the end you can badmouth it all you want, but unless you ever tried it you will never know, and it's those chickens who are scared of the truth who want these drugs criminalized. "Something is happening that is so new," Kesey says, "they're scared beyond any power of reasoning." Asked whether he regretted taking acid for that Stanhope experiment that started it all, Kesey notes, "I think it's a good experience, every time you see more."
Saliva thickening: 6.668
Go Rick Strassman go-ooo--ohm! In case you were born in some insane dimension where all they keys to enlightenment through brain chemistry have been made into felonies for no real sane logical reason you should know Dr. Rick actually got clearance to do DMT studies by the big Health Overlords. The results? Mind-blowing of course, but inconclusive, equally of course. Is there a difference between hallucination and reality? If what you experience in the DMTverse feels a hundred times more real than our waking, consensual reality, than doesn't that mean, as quantum physics and bioverse theorists suggest, it is? Regardless, enough bad trips happened under Strassman's experiments that he now feels a little guilty. Is he a test study Pandora's box cutter, or a modern messiah? Or an apex predator Albert Hoffman? Other heads talking include Daniel Pinchbeck and the 'other' McKenna...Dennis, and there's lots of groovy Alex Grey art and deep hallucinogen-ready kaleidoscope eyefuls.
Joe Rogan narrates, in black and white to give the illusion you're watching this in fourth grade science class, which you should be. I think I donated money to help get this film finished!
Saliva thickening content: 10
2009 - ***
Dude! I remember this as being good, but man they do show a lot of the same stock footage of natural disasters over and over again, especially some shots of a fire bravely eating away the side of a building. I dig the use of the Terence McKenna timewave study, though, and the idea that 'inner time travel' will one day be the new back, blackly. Because it's made in 2009, they're a little more confident in their doomsaying than some of the more recent Mayan docs, and it's good that they among few other docs realize that the future lies within, not without. It may take light years to get to the next galaxy, but only if you need to lug your body. If you can go with just your mind it takes less than no time at all.
Salvia thickening content - 3.9
2-Part Series - ***1/2
There's big arguments between trippers and 'hardcore' Buddhists about which path is 'correct' and that drug epiphanies, meditation 'shortcuts' don't 'count.' But to me that's absurd. Even if, as they say, LSD is the helicopter ride to the roof of the mountain, and we get to look but can't stay, so what? In our ADD age, no one wants to waste their time meditating for no purpose, let them go see the mountain and be sure where there going exists, and then they can meditate to be able to stay there later, longer. That's what happened with Ram Dass, after all. And his documentary, Fierce Grace, is also on Netflix, if you want to go in that direction. And there's a Wavy Gravy documentary if you want to go in the other. I'm still at the crossroads, hanging by my left foot.
Because ultimately if we dabble in psychedelics we are pilgrims in search of the truth, and if the truth leads us to an ashram and we don't go in because we don't want to join a cult, then were we really pilgrims, or were we just bored? If the latter we shun the ashram with its commitments and robes and many-armed deities. We instead become addicted to the sound of helicopters, always hoping this next ride up to the top of mountain will be the one where we can get out and stay, skipping in the process all the chapters about self-discipline and humility. It's the clinging to the skids of expectation, dragging our Apocalypse Now heads through the palm trees; it's the tired feeling when you see your 300th punter waving a glow stick and saying under his breath "OmanI'mtrippin'sohard" and you feel like you're still wading in the kindergarten crayons. Better to just jump and hope you fly, like Superman. That's what all the hysteric anti-drug crusaders think LSD makes you do anyway...
No worries about any of that, though, or enduring any dogma, grandiosity, judgment or incoherence when listening to the great Robert Thurman. You would think an old white guy with a glass eye speaking for an hour and a half via a two camera set-up wouldn't be so riveting, but his tongue speaks much wisdom, and since it's sheathed in scholarly wit and perspective it goes down smooth as the pangs of truths you feel you used to know and just forgot, with scholarly fire replacing the usual humbler-than-thou posturing we sometimes find in non-Asian Buddhist superstars. And if you still don't think Buddhism is trippy, just realize that before she married Thurman, Uma's mom was married to... that's right.... Timothy Leary.
Through powers of pronoia I've traced the whole Uma lineage back to benevolent Nordic alien ancestors who helped manipulate our DNA so that there could be gorgeous blonde Swedes; who helped the original Buddha clean the land of reptilian demons so humans could get a toe hold; who opened up still developing human minds like the most potent of angelic wand taps. I you dare believe, and let the music leaf off the page, and new try the things, and being bewared finally dissolves so you finally become aware... of the bear.
Saliva thickening - 11.2