It is ironic, but here, at the climax of our story, all the major players are offstage.
Ken Kesey was in prison, having been sentenced at the end of June to six months in the San Mateo County Sheriffs honor camp, which was forty-five miles south and east of the Haight, smack in the middle of a redwood forest. He'd installed a stereo next to the camp swimming pool and was introducing his fellow model inmates to the psychedelic sound. At first he'd been assigned to the camp tailor shop, but after redecorating it with psychedelic murals, he'd been transferred to a road gang. Prison, he wrote in his notebook, was even crazier than the nuthouse ...
Equally scarce that summer was news of Augustus Owsley Stanley the Third, although his product, particularly Scully's STP, was everywhere. The hippies joked that Owsley had gotten so far out he'd gone into another dimension, which was why the Feds couldn't catch him. He was working on the next superpsychedelic, they whispered, which he was going to call PDA, in honor of the agency.
Then there was Leary, rumored to be in India, although actually he was back at Millbrook, living in a teepee on Ecstasy Hill. Tim had gone tribal that summer, wearing buckskins and a beaded headband, and waxing lyrical over the communal joys of teepee living. It was his first idle stretch since India, and he spent it getting high and listening to the new Beatles album. Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, on a portable stereo. "I've dropped out completely myself," he told a Look magazine writer. "I'm already an anachronism in the LSD movement anyway. The Beatles have taken my place. That latest album—a complete celebration of LSD." He called them "the four evangelists."1
For visitors, Tim exuded a relaxed harmoniousness, as though the solitude of the Hitchcock estate was all he could ever desire. But in actual fact he was there because he had no where else to go. He was flat broke and left the reservation only for lectures (his fee had risen to one thousand dollars) and "bread quests." A few months earlier he had been confidently predicting that the psychedelic mystery celebration would "become the most popular form of drama in the western world during the next decade."2 But now it was apparent that he, like so many impresarios, had misjudged the popular mood. Death of the Mind and its successor, the Illumination of the Buddha ("Each of you is the Buddha. Did you forget that? When they say he's the prince, they mean he's a well brought up boy who went to UCLA. He had a thousand dancing girls or a television set. They kept him from the discovery that there was a way of turning on—of solving the riddle of sickness ... age ... death. So the Buddha dropped out of school and quit his job and set out on the internal voyage.")3 had only driven him deeper into debt, adding an additional ten thousand dollars to his already staggering legal bills.
But Tim didn't let his financial and legal problems undermine his optimism. America "will be an LSD country within fifteen years," he cheerfully informed a BBC interviewer. "Our Supreme Court will be smoking marijuana within fifteen years. It's inevitable, because the students in our best universities are doing it now."4 Was he serious? How was one to interpret that flashing grin? "Beauty is dandy, but humor is quicker," wrote the writer from Look, "and any nonintoxicated visitor to Millbrook soon gets the sense that he is being put on or—in a more durable vernacular—joshed."5 Look's assessment of Tim was that he wasn't a bad man, just not a very good wizard.
But others, even some former friends and supporters, were beginning to have doubts. Alan Watts thought Tim was suffering from what Jung called inflation, which was a sort of messianic neurosis that came from misreading the mystical experience. Tim had become a storefront messiah, a Socrates intent on corrupting the young, the P. T. Barnum of the Other World ... having shed his old ego, he was now in the process of growing a giant new one. "He may mislead a whole generation with his paranoid self-importance," said a writer who had been a frequent visitor to Millbrook in the past.6
However, even broke and living in a teepee, Leary still personified the psychedelic Zeitgeist-. the problem wasn't that Tim Leary thought he was a guru: the problem was that every third Tom, Dick, and Harry either thought they were a guru, or had a guru who thought, etc., etc. In fact, Leary wasn't even the chief guru at Millbrook anymore: he was only one of three. Visitors to the estate could now choose between playing the inner game with Art Kleps and his Neo-American Church, who were headquartered in the Gate House, or they could go the psychedelic Hindu route and join the Shri Rama Ashram, which occupied the Big House and was under the guidance of an itinerant guru named Bill Haines, or they could opt for the League of Spiritual Discovery, in which case they needed to get a teepee and pitch it with the others on Ecstasy Hill.
Consumer choice, in the grand American tradition, had come to the private revolution. Following the Summer of Love, the hippie ethic—the San Francisco Chronicle, no doubt trying to get the lexical jump on its rival, the Examiner, coined the word freebie to describe the new nonhippies, but that died a quick merciful death—fractionated into a dozen different sects and cults, each with its own techniques for accessing the Other World. The deeper hippies, the ones who hadn't come to the Haight for a lark, began chanting and meditating; they sat down and finally read all those arcane Tibetan texts they'd bought at the Psychedelic Shop. A surprising number joined the Hare Krishnas, one of the most ascetic and dogmatic sects around. Others gravitated to various gurus (the Maharishi and Meher Baba were popular) or followed charismatic hippies, either good ones like Steve Gaskin, or tragic ones like Charlie Manson, whose little family would become a mocking paradigm of Leary's tribal vision.
Michael Murphy, one of the co-founders of the Esalen Institute (whose human potential experiments would fill the media void left by the death of hippie) described what was happening this way: "I've always thought of the Beats as the first wave on the beach. The hippies were the second and now maybe we're getting a third, the sadhaks, who will be more experienced meditators. A lot of people have been done in by drugs, I think. Now that has passed its peak. The interest is here to stay but wisdom is coming."7
The heavy meditators—Murphy's sadhaks—claimed their highs were superior to those of drugs because they were free of all the physiological "noise" that accompanied a psychedelic trip to the Other World. There was no overwhelming surge of panic from the reptilian brain; no fight or flight anxiety from the midbrain, no straying into a replay of your birth. LSD had been a necessary tool, but now it was time to move on. Psychedelics were "like a boat one uses to cross a river," Alan Watts wrote, but once on the opposite bank the journey continues on foot.8
This new direction was sanctified in the fall of 1967, when Leary's "four evangelists," the Beatles, publicly announced that they were giving up psychedelics for transcendental meditation, and were becoming disciples of the Maharishi at his ashram in Rishikesh, on the banks of the Ganges. The Beatles were by no means the only celebrities attracted by the diminutive roly-poly yogi with the squeaky voice. Mia Farrow, the Hollywood actress, was also learning how to meditate in Rishikesh, as was Donovan, the psychedelic troubadour, whose "Sunshine Superman" and "Mallow Yellow" were routinely condemned as being "prodrug" by the people who worry about such things. For a few months the Maharishi and his ashram were as familiar as Jackie Kennedy or the White House, as paparazzi competed for the shots of JohnPaulRingoGeorge walking obediently beside their perfect master. Fleet Street covered their meditational progress as though it were Derby Day: Paul held the record with four hours, while John and George were minutes behind, and Ringo wasn't even in the game. Indeed, Ringo only lasted ten days at Rishikesh, before sneaking away, telling the press that the food hadn't agreed with his stomach. Paul McCartney held out for nine weeks before leaving, then John went, finally George. "We thought there was more to him than there was," McCartney later told the press. "He's human, we thought at first he wasn't."9
The Maharishi ultimately survived the Beatles' defection, but the calls from the Johnny Carson show and the Today show stopped coming.
But not everyone who went to India came home disillusioned or discomposed. At the same time that the Beatles were practicing emptying their minds at Rishikish, another character in our story, Richard Alpert, was achieving the state of grace that he'd been seeking since watching himself vanish on Tim's couch in the Newton house. Alpert had finally looked into the eyes of someone who knew!
It had happened like this. By June 1967 Alpert was again at loose ends, unable to resume his career as a mainstream psychologist, yet bored with the psychedelic lecture circuit. His mother had just died, and he could feel the black mood that had troubled him since Zihuatanejo beginning to build. So when a friend invited him along on a search for Indian holymen, he had eagerly agreed, particularly since they planned to travel in style, picking up a new Landrover in Teheran and staying in the best hotels. Most of the time they partied, smoking Afghani hash and dipping regularly into Alpert's bottle of Owsley acid. Alpert gave LSD to every holy man who would try it: some said "I don't feel anything," others compared it to meditation, and a few asked, "Where can I get some more?" For three months they puttered across Iran, Afghanistan, and India, before fetching up in Nepal.
They were sitting in the Blue Tibetan in Katmandu, discussing their plans, when it happened. Alpert's friend wanted to continue on to Japan to visit the Zendos; Alpert was considering a return to the U.S. Maybe he'd become a chauffeur, he mused, murmuring his mantras while his employer shopped in Bergdorf Goodman's. It was a vision right out of Somerset Maugham's The Razer's Edge, and it was momentarily interrupted when a 6-foot 7-inch Westerner with long blonde hippie hair and wearing a traditional dhoti pushed his way into the Blue Tibetan. Alpert glanced up, their eyes connected, and with a little electric shiver he realized: this guy knew.
His name was Bhagwan Dass, and he seemed to take it for granted that Alpert was going to follow him on a temple pilgrimage to India. Alpert wasn't so sure. He kept telling himself that he hadn't come halfway around the world to end up scurrying after a twenty-three-year-old surfer from Laguna Beach, California. But when Bhagwan Dass left Katmandu, Alpert was with him, barefoot, wearing a dhoti, ready to beg his way across India, to put his health and welfare in the hands of the uncommunicative Bhagwan Dass. Whenever Alpert tried to gossip about his days with Tim or tell funny stories about Harvard, Bhagwan Dass would shush him and say, "Be here now." It was hard not to be. Those first few weeks were painful in the extreme. Alpert's feet turned into gigantic blisters and he contracted dysentery, which led to a physical breakdown. He became like a little boy, totally dependent on Bhagwan Dass, who insisted on stopping in every little village to play his stringed instrument (Alpert was given a drum and commanded to beat) and receive the homage that the Indians freely give to those on the ancient path. All that remained of the old Alpert was his passport, his return airplane ticket, a couple of travelers checks, and his bottle of LSD.
One day Bhagwan Dass announced that it was time to visit his guru. They borrowed a car and drove one hundred miles to a little temple in the Himalayan foothills where, as soon as the vehicle came to a stop, Bhagwan Dass leapt out, tears streaming down his face, and disappeared up a mountain path, running swiftly. Alpert followed, as he had been doing for months, but reluctantly. He was beginning to have second thoughts: whatever magic this giant surfer had acquired, it wasn't rubbing off. And the sight of Bhagwan's guru, a tiny little man sitting on an ordinary blanket contemplating the enormous blonde American who was prostrate at his feet, did nothing to reassure him. The first question the man on the blanket asked Alpert was whether he was a rich American, and when Alpert replied that he did okay, the man immediately asked for a car. Alpert was taken aback—"I had come from a family of fundraisers for the United Jewish Appeal, Brandeis and the Einstein Medical School and I had never seen hustling like this."10 The meeting was shaping up as grist for one of his comic monologues, a great story if and when he played the Village Gate again, but then the guru started talking about Alpert's mother, dead not quite a year, and he correctly diagnosed that her death had been caused by complications of the spleen. Alpert had been in control up to this point, but now his head began to swim, he felt a violent pain in his chest and he began to cry: "I wasn't happy and I wasn't sad. The only thing I felt like was that I was home. The journey was finished."11
Or almost finished. The psychologist in Alpert required one more proof. The next morning he gave the little man three of Owsley's best, 900 micrograms, and sat down to wait ("The little scientist in me says, 'this is going to be very interesting.'")12. But Bhagwan's guru just twinkled at him as though nothing out of the ordinary was taking place. No Doors opening in my mind, thank you, because they're already wide open. The guy was permanently high, Alpert realized, and that's exactly how he wanted to be.
Alpert stayed in that little Himalayan ashram until the middle of 1968. Every morning he would rise and bathe in the river, do his yoga, meditate, and wait for his teacher to arrive, a terse little man who would come in with a chalkboard and write something like: "If a pickpocket meets a saint, he sees only his pockets."13 Alpert shed sixty pounds plus his name: he was now Ram Dass. And if he wasn't there yet, he did feel light and beautiful and terrifically high.
But Alpert is the exception in this finale. At roughly the same time that he was giving his guru three of Owsley's best, Owsley was being arrested in upstate California, the culmination of a pursuit that had cost the government (according to John Finlator, BDAC's director) several million dollars and several dozen cars. The Feds had chased Owsley all over the west, embarrassed by his high media profile as a psychedelic Robin Hood. One story, in the Los Angeles Times, had a leather-jacketed Owsley speeding up to a Sunset Boulevard bank on a red motorcycle, like Brando in The Wild One. Owsley had walked up to the teller and from his pockets, his helmet, his boots had come wads of small bills, twenty-five thousand dollars worth of small bills. Changing them into 250 crisp new hundred-dollar bills, he had climbed back onto his red motorcycle and sped away. It was the beginning of his public fame: the LSD millionaire, thirty-one years old and all that money.
Owsley made a brief blip on the police screens in April 1967, when he was arrested in upstate New York after a visit to Millbrook. The police stopped him for speeding and driving with a broken taillight, but they later released him on his own recognizance. They retained, however, some of his belongings, among which was a key to a safety deposit box at Manufacturer's Hanover Trust Company. And inside that box was $225,000. Owsley's girlfriend had a duplicate key, so that was no problem; and although the possibility of police surveillance worried them, a more important consideration was finding a permanent haven for Owsley's LSD profits. Billy Hitchcock was called in as someone who knew about high finance, and within hours a courier was on his way from the Bahamas. A few weeks later the psychedelic movement had its first Swiss bank account under the code name Robin Goodfellow.
It was useful having a European source of cash, since Europe was about the last place where you could obtain large quantities of lysergic monohydrate and ergotomine tartrate, the key ingredients for making LSD. And that wasn't going to be the case for too many more months: already the U.S. was pressuring its allies to pass anti-LSD legislation similar to its own. Tim Scully was particularly passionate in his belief that they should stockpile as much raw material as possible, and he also became involved in Billy Hitchcock's fantasy of buying an island, ideally somewhere in the Caribbean, and establishing an offshore drug lab. This was known as the Dr. No fantasy, after the James Bond movie of the same name. Hitchcock was also advising the acid chemists to link up in a kind of cartel, so they could pool resources, control production and set price, and in general function like a normal business.
Owsley knew about these schemes, but he wasn't too interested. Although he enjoyed being "the Mr. Big of the S.F. scene," as one of his new assistants, a young head named Teenie Weenie Deanie described him, and was "quite fond of himself and his position in the emerging acid world of 1967," Owsley was rapidly tiring of the heat that went along with the status of Mr. Big.14 The constant pursuit was wearing him down; his paranoia, never a small thing, was beginning to eat away at his belief that he was divinely protected from the bumbling efforts of the Feds.
They caught him (thirteen federal and state narcotics agents) a few days before Christmas, 1967, in the California town of Orinda, where he was tableting the latest product from Scully's Denver lab. They caught him with 217 grams of product, about three-quarters of a million doses, which his lawyer, when the case came to trial two years later, argued were for personal consumption. Throughout the trial Owsley would refuse to talk to the press, claiming he was just an illusion the media had created. "You mean to say you're just a figment of my imagination?" one reporter asked. "That's right," he snapped. If he had it to do over again, Owsley would've chosen to be the Shadow instead of Robin Hood. When the trial ended, the judge sentenced him to three years in prison and fined him three thousand dollars.
But while Owsley's arrest certainly removed a major personality from the psychedelic scene, it didn't dent the flow of LSD. There was more product than ever, and a lot of it came from the new LSD cartel, which never really had a name, although it has come down to us as "The Brotherhood of Eternal Love." The name came from a bunch of former Laguna Beach surfers and juvenile delinquents who'd dropped acid, grokked the true vision, and incorporated themselves with the State of California as the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. They ran a head shop/ crafts store called the Mystic Arts in Laguna Beach, and had a communal ranch out in the desert. But their primary occupation was smuggling: the Brotherhood were probably the best dope smugglers in America. They were almost as well known among the cognoscenti as Owsley: when Leary was fighting his Texas conviction, the Brotherhood gave his defense fund ten thousand dollars. Tim, who became quite close to the Brotherhood and particularly to its house guru, an ethereal hippie named John Griggs, used to refer to them as "reincarnations of a roving band or Portuguese pirates."
The Brotherhood's primary focus was marijuana and hashish; they never took a profit on LSD, since they saw that part of their operation as a charitable spreading of the sacrament. They got most of their LSD from the cartel that Tim Scully had formed with several other chemists, notably Nick Sand, who was the young man whose panel truck, nabbed at the Colorado border, had so alarmed PDA director Goddard.
But if the Brotherhood had replaced Owsley as the best-known distributor of LSD, it had also inherited his status as BDAC's number-one target. Sometimes, working in the lab, Tim Scully would have these sudden flashes of himself on trial. Just a quick sharp feeling of impending confinement. And had he pursued these precognitive visions, he might have heard the Judge, Samuel Conti, saying, "put a fancy name on it, call it a psychedelic movement, call it the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, call it the wonderful Hells Angel movement—whatever you wanted to call it, they all ended up in one thing. They all ended up in the degradation of mankind, the degradation of society."15
Which brings us finally to Tim Leary. For the next two years Leary played an inspired but ultimately futile end game with the authorities. He was arrested, by one count, ten more times, although the figure may be higher. When he was evicted by the Hitchcock Cattle Company from Millbrook in February 1968, he told a reporter from the Associated Press that he was going underground to avoid police harassment, adding, with his usual mocking grin, that one day he would be recognized as the wisest man of the twentieth century. But it was not in Leary's nature to play the underground game; he loved the limelight and was never happier than when he had an audience; but he also realized that there was no profit in hiding out, nor any dignity: you couldn't get this far into the ancient game and then hair out, as the surfers said.
In the spring of 1968 he turned up in San Francisco, with his old Harvard buddy Charles Slack in tow. Slack, his career as a psychologist temporarily on hold, was working as a journalist for a New York magazine. He'd run into Leary at the Village Gate, where a few of Tim's friends had held a public farewell party for him. Slack had attended largely to satisfy his curiosity over whether his old colleague had really (as his secretary claimed) become God. He found the same old Tim, or almost the same old Tim. The charmingly persuasive Leary who had insisted that Slack drop everything he was doing and accompany them to California was a familiar fellow. And Slack had read enough of Tim's public statements so that the Grand Vision didn't faze him—"first come the children. They are already turned on. Then will come the ordinary working adults, regular nine-to-five people, who will soon turn on. The professions will be next—doctor-lawyer power roles. It is impossible to remain tied to a profession during or after an LSD session."16 But he was unprepared for the adoration that Leary evoked in the gullible young. As soon as he set foot in the San Francisco airport he'd been surrounded by a corona of eager young faces, for whom he wove a bit of Irish blarney:
"I am going to start my own country," he told the kids. "I am going to interest an investor in the purchase of large amounts of land to the south. After we buy our land, we will set up our own government, declare ourselves independent of the U.S.A. and set up our own country with our own laws or lack thereof, as the case may be. Our laws will stress complete freedom of the mind and body: freedom to ingest any substance which will lead toward spiritual enlightenment or interpersonal understanding, freedom of the mind, internal freedom."17
It was Slack's first brush with psychedelic reality, as opposed to the consensual version accepted by most Americans. Start your own country? How credible was that coming from a man who didn't even have the cash to rent a car from the airport? Leary's finances had never been worse. Yet his fame had never been greater. There was a popular button that said, simply, "Leary is God."
Soon after arriving in San Francisco, Leary took Slack on a pub-crawl of the Haight, ducking into coffee shops and ashrams. "I love this world," he confided. "I have everything I need here. It's all very together. I have beauty, laughter, art, companionship, sex, style, gorgeous chicks around every turn. And most important of all, I have spirituality. After all, I am a religious leader and I must behave like one."18
"I'll bet you're on personal terms with every stoned kooky religious nut in town," Slack said. "Every one," replied Tim.
It was sometime after this that Slack asked Tim what the secret of his success was and Leary replied with one word: Faust.
"You're joking," I said when it sank in.
"No," he replied, "but it often begins as a joke."
"You mean you ... you don't mean it. You didn't."
"Yes I did," he said. "Didn't I, Ed?"
"He sure did," said Ed in a steady voice.
"But that's exactly what I said, too, at the time."19
Typical Tim. Yet it did send a shiver up the spine. There was no guarantee, after all, that the powers you contacted in the Other World were holy as opposed to infernal. One look at the Haight-Ashbury made that clear. It was full of burn-outs with those peculiarly dead eyes that were one of the most unsettling legacies of the private revolution. Crime, which had fallen in the early years of the Haight, had climbed sharply in the final months of 1967, ending the year with seventeen murders, one hundred rapes, and not quite three thousand burglaries. And there was no sign of any slacking off. The old guard was long gone, many to communes or to farms in Marin or the foothills east of the City. Most of the original shops were closed—the Oracle was gone, the Psychedelic Shop; about the only survivor from the Summer of Love was the Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinic, which was treating a growing population of heroin and speed addicts.
Anger was the dominant mood. In February a tourist ran over a dog and the Haight went wild, although it was nothing compared to the July riot that went on for three nights, with kids tearing up clumps of pavement and tossing Molotov cocktails off the rooftops. Of course the Haight wasn't unique in this: 1968 was the year the top blew off the pressure cooker, particularly at the Democratic National Convention, where the kids and the Chicago police raged at each other for five days.
Instead of love, the Sixties were ending with hate.
But this didn't seem to bother Tim. "This is my world," he told Slack as he guided him through the ruins of the Haight. "This is my scene. I made it and it made me."20 And the symbiosis wasn't over. Ralph Metzner spent Christmas of 1968 with Tim at the Brotherhood of Eternal Love's desert ranch, and he was distressed by the changes in his friend's character:
It did indeed sadden my heart to see Tim, whom I had loved deeply as a friend, being pulled increasingly downward into more and more separated and darkened states of consciousness, to the point where he could talk of the "white light of the Buddha being the fire from the gun of a revolutionary," or speak casually of "offing a pig," or advocate the use of cocaine or heroin to reach particular "states of consciousness." I was also dismayed by the increasingly chaotic and meaningless ramblings which came from his pen and were published in his name.21
Tim invited Metzner to drive back to Laguna with him, but due to the illness of a friend Metzner demurred. He was lucky. When Tim reached Laguna Beach his car was stopped by the police and two pounds of marijuana were found in the trunk.
It was added to the conga line of Leary legal briefs that was winding its way through the judicial system. In 1969 his appeal of his Texas conviction finally reached the Supreme Court. And on May 20, the Supreme Court threw out his conviction on the grounds that the marijuana stamp tax was an improper and confusing law: you couldn't force somebody to declare and pay a tax on a substance that was illegal. Although Texas immediately announced that they would retry Mr. Leary on different grounds, the Supreme Court decision filled Leary's sails. The next day he announced that he was running for governor of California, the candidate of a new party whose name was FERVOR, an acronym of Free Enterprise, Reward, Virtue and Order. Among other things, FERVOR proposed selling marijuana in state stores. (When asked about nonsmokers, Leary said, "They can buy brownies.") But its most radical proposal had to do with its philosophy of government. Leary had a distinctly Platonic model in mind: if elected he would lease the government to either Ronald Reagan, the Republican incumbent, or Jesse Unruh, the democratic challenger; they would handle the tedious details like appointing judges, while he and Rosemary would live in a teepee on the lawn of the governor's mansion, and function as philosopher-kings.
His election posters depicted a Byronic Tim gazing into the cosmic distance, while below him frolicked a village of mushroom people.
It was his last public gesture. In February 1970, a Texas court resentenced him to ten years in prison. Leary quickly appealed. But a few weeks later, on March 21, a California jury convicted him on the Laguna Beach bust. Calling him an "insidious menace" and a "pleasure-seeking, irresponsible Madison Avenue advocate of the free use of drugs,"22 Superior Court Judge Byron McMillan refused to set bail. If he wanted to appeal his one- to ten-year conviction, he could do it from a jail cell. On April 23, the California Supreme Court denied his petition for bail, without comment. And on May 18 he was remanded to the California Men's Colony West, a minimum security prison in San Luis Obispo, midway up the coast between Los Angeles and San Francisco. He looked terrible. Rosemary commented he was "forty-nine going on five thousand."23 Combined with the Texas sentence, he faced a possible twenty years in jail, and that wasn't counting his upcoming Dutchess County trial on an eleven-count indictment stemming from some raids on the Big House in late 1967.
And so the psychedelic movement ground to a close. The drugs were still available, more so than ever, but it was a rare person who took them to push the envelope. For the kids, a trip to the Other World was like a trip to Disneyland, lots of scary rides and laughs, but no wisdom.
Kesey, Owsley, IFIF, the Acid Tests, Castalia, the Trips Festival, the Harvard Psilocybin Project, the Be-In—it had receded into memory so fast it was almost as if it had happened to an older brother, or an uncle, or maybe they'd read about it in some book or magazine-it didn't seem real. Had they really thought they could transform Uncle Sam into the Buddha? The fact was, the good times were too painful to talk about because they always led to the bad times, to all the people who had been left behind, either burned out or in prison or on the run or irrevocably lost, like Neal Cassady, dead on a railroad track outside the Mexican town of San Miguel Allende; or Jack Kerouac, dead of a hemorrhage; or John Griggs, the leader of the Brotherhood, dead from bad psilocybin. Or Sharon Tate, dead from a malignancy that had been growing all the while in the Haight-Ashbury, unnoticed, but that was no excuse.
The game was over, almost. On the night of September 12, 1970, Tim Leary was crawling along the roof of cellblock number 324, his trademark tennis sneakers covered with black paint. Up ahead was the telephone cable that led to a pole outside the twelve-foot chain-link fence. And beyond that was his getaway car, paid for by a twenty-five thousand-dollar grant from .the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. The car, if it was out there, was driven by a member of the Weather Underground, which was the militant residue of the now defunct SDS.
All Leary had to do was wrap himself around the cable and pull himself to freedom. But by the time he was a third of the way across his muscles were screaming and he knew he would fail. "Would they poke me down like a wild raccoon with sticks? I should have quit smoking. I should have pumped more iron. Forty-nine years and 325 days of my life built up to this ordeal. There was no fear—only a nagging embarrassment. Such an undignified way to die, nailed like a sloth to a branch."24
But then he felt it, that old surge of cellular energy, the lifeforce. He was going to make it. No one was going to shoot him. The car would be waiting. And Rosemary. And beyond that, freedom. Once again he was heading into the wind.
Like the wild geese.
1 "I've dropped out completely ..." Look, August 8, 1967.
2 "become the most popular..." LA Times. Feb. 5,1967.
3 "each of you is the Buddha ..." LA Times, Feb. 5,1967.
4 "will be an LSD country ..." Roszak, p. 168.
5 "beauty is dandy ..." Look, August 8, 1967.
6 "he may mislead ..." Look, August 8, 1967.
7 "I've always thought..." Gustaitis, Turning On, p. 95.
8 "like a boat one uses ..." Rick Fields, p. 252.
9 "we thought there was more ..." Norman, Shout, p. 404.
11 "I wasn't happy and I wasn't sad ..." BHN.
12 "the little scientist..." BHN.
14 "the Mr. Big ..." Rolling Stones's The Sixties, p. 182.
15 "put a fancy name on it..." Brotherhood of Eternal Love trial,
16 "first come the children ..." Slack, p. 46.
17 "I am going to start..." Slack, p. 69.
18 "I love this world ... I'll bet you're on personal terms ... every one ..." Slack, p. 143.
21 "it did indeed sadden ..." Metzner mss.
22 "insidious menace ... pleasure seeking ..." New York Times, March 22,1970.
23 "49 going on ..." New York Times, March 22,1970.
24 "would they poke me down ..." FB, p. 295.
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