The Prince of Possibility; The Man Who Turned on the Here: On the Lam in Mexico with Ken Kesey – By Robert Stone


“In 1964 Ken Kesey was working in a cabin so deep in the redwoods south of San Francisco that its indifferently painted interior walls seemed to grow seaweed instead of mold. Despite its glass doors, the cabin held the winter light for little more than a midday hour, and the place had the cast of an old-fashioned ale bottle. It smelled of ale, too, or, at least, of beer, and dope. Those were the days of seeded marijuana: castaway seeds sprouted in the spongy rot of what had been the carpet, and plants thrived in the lamplight and the green air. Witchy fingers of morning-glory vine wound through every shelf and corner of that cabin like illuminations in some hoary manuscript. Across the highway, on the far bank of La Honda Creek, there were more morning-glory vines. They were there, Kesey said, because he had filled the magazines of his shotgun with morning-glory seeds and fired them into the hillside. The morning glory, as few then understood, is a close relative of the magical ololiuqui vine, which was said to be used by Chibcha shamans in necromancy and augury. Once ingested, the morning glory’s poisonous-tasting seeds produced hours of startling visions and insights. The commercial distributors of the seeds, officially unaware of this, gave the varieties names like Heavenly Blue and Pearly Gates. (A warning: Don’t try this at home! The morning-glory seeds sold these days are advertised as being toxic to the point of deadliness.) La Honda was a strange place, a spot on the road that descended from the western slope of the Santa Cruz Mountains toward the artichoke fields on the coast. Situated mostly within the redwood forest, it had the quality of a raw Northwestern logging town, transported to suburban San Francisco. In spirit, it was a world away from the woodsy gentility of the other Peninsula towns nearby. Its winters were like Seattle’s, and its summers pretty much the same. Kesey and his wife, Faye, had moved there in 1963, after their house on Perry Lane, in Menlo Park, was torn down by developers. Perry Lane was one of the small leafy streets that meandered around the Stanford campus then, lined with inexpensive bungalows and inhabited by junior faculty and graduate students. (The Keseys had lived there while Ken did his graduate work at the university and afterward.) The area had a bohemian tradition that extended back to the time of the economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen, who lived there at the beginning of the twentieth century. Kesey, as master of the revels sixty years later, did a great deal to advance that tradition. There were stoned poetry readings and lion hunts in the midnight-dark on the golf course, where chanting hunters danced to bogus veldt rhythms pounded out on kitchenware. …”
Leathersmithe
Crime Reads
amazon: The Eye You See With: Selected Nonfiction

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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