Ken Kesey on the Lam, Voice Goes to 15 cents!


“Where is novelist Ken Kesey? It has been months and still no word on him. Not since O. Henry, 70 years ago, has an American literary figure taken it on the lam after getting into trouble with the law. O. Henry was accused of embezzling bank funds. Kesey has been convicted of possessing marijuana and sentenced to six months in jail. Then, while his case was under appeal, he was picked up again for marijuana and also for resisting arrest locally, when he was taken one night from a Telegraph Hill rooftop with Mountain Girl, 19 years old. The neighbors had complained, as they have been doing ever since Kesey hit California. O. Henry skipped because the idea of prison frightened him. Kesey ran because the ‘combine’ was going to deny him justice and instead make an example of him. This is the way his followers, who reach from Portland, Oregon, down to Los Angeles, look at it. Others, not so fond of him, including novelist Robin White, say he ran because, despite the bull neck and the big biceps and the big talk, Kesey is a coward. This is part of the Kesey fascination: he doesn’t add up. Mark Schorer, who has had two polite conversations with him, regards him as ‘a very retiring fellow, nothing aggressive about him and rather shy.’ Herbert Gold, who knows Kesey from various places, said first about him, ‘He’s a warm-hearted person.’ Robin White (‘Elephant Hill,’ ‘All in Favor Say No’) becomes incensed at the mention of Kesey: ‘He talks about himself as though he were Christ. If Kesey was in isolation, he’d disintegrate. He’s got to have buttressing, weak individuals he can exploit.’ Kesey, whose high domed head is nearly bald, is 30 years old. He regards himself as fiercely independent, no doubt as the McMurphy of his own novel, ‘One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.’ There are no limits. His buddies are LSD cultists, the Hells Angels motorcycle gang, peace marchers, Allen Ginsberg (off and on), Jack Kerouac hangers-on, a bookshop owner, a helicopter pilot wounded in Vietnam, and people who prefer anonymity, like Mountain Girl, and the man she says she is going to marry. She is seven months pregnant.  …”
Voice

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Allen Ginsberg, Hippie, Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey, LSD, Marijuana, Merry Pranksters, Vietnam War and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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