June 27, 2016

HEADS NEWS #14: California Report, New Sasha Shulgin Books, Happy 75th to Robert Hunter, more.

Greetings from the People's Republic of Berkeley: If Humbead's Revised Map of the World was compatible with Google, I'd currently be a little blinking dot in the Berkeley quadrant, still a major node in the old and new head networks. Not coincidentally, that's the gist of what I'll be discussing at the Brower Center tonight, the closing event in the first round of Heads Talks, presented with the excellent humans at ERIE. It's shaping up to be quite an evening, including a very rare presentation of Marc Franklin's Psychedelic Pioneers photos with live annotation by Marc (see below), an even rarer onstage appearance by the former chemist and post-psychedelic quilter Sarah Matzar (who will have some quilts for sale), a presentation by Magenta Ceiba on the current state of psychedelics, some roundtablin', and (surely) conversational contributions from a wide array of Berkeley irregulars. If you're in the Bay Area, I hope you can make it (and if you know someone who is, please send them our way)! Some reports from the other California Heads Talks are below. 

Heads has been out and about in the world for three months now, available via fine booksellers everywhere, and (with my signature appended) via HeadsTalks.com. Enormous thanks for such an encouraging reception. If you read it and enjoyed it, without belaboring the point, I'd certainly appreciate any and all help spreading the word, be it with a review on certain bookselling sites, by sharing posts from @HeadsNews or Facebook, or just telling friends. Or not. That's totally cool, too. I'll be working with Blank Space to set up some more events in other semi-obvious heady territories, but if you think a Heads Talk might be a good fit for your town, please reply and say hello! And if I owe you an email, sorry, I'll be digging out soon. Love and space, Jesse. 
 
Marc Franklin shows his Psychedelic Pioneers photos at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

1. The California Report. To be fair, there's never a way to condense ten days in California into a pithy email summation, but (besides my trip to the Women's Visionary Congress, see HEADS NEWS #13) first things first: Huge thanks to the California Historical Society and their amazing and engaged staff for inviting me to organize a Heads Talk amid their fantastic collection of San Francisco countercultural ephemera. Their current exhibit is well worth seeing, dedicated to the workshops staged by the dancer Anna Halprin (of the San Francisco Dancers' Workshop) and her husband, architect Lawrence Halprin. I especially dug the documentation of the Kaliflower zine, published by the same Sutter Street Commune that spawned the gender-bending performance troupe the Cockettes. San Franciscans will have a feast of countercultural historical exhibits coming to them soon. At the Heads Talk proper, I had my mind bent hearing the stories from pioneer tape composer/solar yogi/sci-fi author/general cosmic goodnik Ramon Sender and LSD blotter archivist Mark McCloud, who shared (among other artifacts) images of the '70s San Francisco psychedelic zine Stains on Paper, regular purveyor of images of about-to-be-released blotter from an in-the-know source.

And sweet lovely Santa Cruz: thank you for filling the auditorium at the Museum of Art and History on less than a week's notice! Probably that has something to do with county supervisor John Leopold, who I interviewed last year when he dedicated a new bus stop memorial at a spot near the site of the first Acid Test, at Ken Babbs's place in Soquel, and master Deadhead facilitator. For the Heads Talk, a replica of the stop was set up in the lobby, probably the only government-recognized memorial for a psychedelic event anywhere in the world. Needless to say, Santa Cruz brought it for the Heads Talk: Allison Wilens spoke about the latest work from the locally based MAPS in facilitating new research, and Nicholas Meriwether (editor of the forthcoming Grateful Dead series via UC Press) and I conversed about the importance of Dead studies and why it's a reflection of the study of American history at large. Santa Cruz-based photographer Marc Franklin did a beautiful live presentation from his Psychedelic Pioneers series, which is likewise excerpted in Heads. A truly packed evening. 

2. New Sasha Shulgin Books. Ann Shulgin posted a long update on the state of Transform Press, the Alexander Shulgin Research Institute, and other matters connected to the archives and legacy of the late great chemist. Most of it is housekeeping and generally encouraging news that, for example, Sasha's greenhouse (and its contents) are being preserved. Most exciting (for now) there are also two new books coming soon, built on Shulgin lectures: The Nature of Drugs, volume 1 and Forensic Toxicology. On the topic of Shulgin studies, a recent request for Sasha's Freedom of Information Act files, some 231 pages, has also found its way online.
3. Robert Hunter's 75th. Glorious birthday wishes to Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. Best known (and rightly so) for his longtime collaboration with Jerry Garcia, Hunter's body of work stretches far and deep, and rewards exploration at all levels. Have you checked out his DMT dialogues with Terence McKenna? (They quickly get beyond my comprehension but, like, whoa.) Somewhere, buried on his website is The Giant's Harp, is a whole folktale-like mini-novel based in the Terrapin universe that I vaguely remember reading in awe circa 1996. Or there's the universe-building Eagle Mall Suite, intended to be the follow-up to the Live/Dead, just before the Dead got folky (again) in 1969. I love some of Hunter's solo acoustic work pretty deeply, too, like this take of "Box of Rain" (from 1980's excellent Jack O' Roses). And I'm pretty sure "Yellow Moon" (from 1975's Tiger Rose) is the only released instance of Hunter and Garcia performing as a duo with no other musicians. Happy birthday, man!
A letter from an imprisoned Owsley Stanley to an exiled Timothy Leary, 1971, see below.
 
4. Headline News
o The Timothy Leary Archive seems like a pretty incredible collection, whatever you think of Leary's impact on the history of psychedelics, with an amazing story all its own. Part 2 of a long interview with archivist Michael Horowitz is up, including the above letter from Owsley Stanley. (Part 1 here.) 
o The always-essential Bia Labate makes the argument that Brazil is the epicenter of contemporary psychedelic research, where research into ayahuasca is far less restricted than parallel American work on psilocybin and other materials.
o From the Women's Visionary Congress archive: An excellent conversation with Carolyn Adams Garcia, aka Mountain Girl, including a new-to-print account of her own personal Bicycle Day, circa 1964, involving iboga. On a similar note, MG is currently writing a memoir (!!!!!). 
o "Challenging Media Narratives in Discussion of Psychedelics" by Giolio Sica.
o Another good counterpoint: Neuropsychedelia author Nicolas Langlitz argues that psychedelics can't be tested using traditional clinical trials.
o A new interview with Peter Stöstedt-H about psychedelics, philosophy, and the philosophy of psychedelics.
o A long interview with Bill Ham, founder of San Francisco's Light Sound Dimension light show.
o Psychedelic job opening: The Third Wave is seeking a paid intern for social media and other duties.
o A closer look at the much-circulated study on psychedelics and the reduction of violence.
o A very cool in-progress Google Map charting out '60s and '70s countercultural sites in Boston.
o A new documentary on Czech LSD experiments, including hints of a gram of LSD buried in Prague.
o "When You're Busted at a Music Festival, Who You Gonna Call?", on festival lawyers.

5. Events

6/27 - LOS ANGELES: A Good Trip: A Psychedelic Comedy Show (more info)

6/27 - BERKELEY - Heads Talk (more info)

7/16 - LONDON: Decolonizing Psychedelics: Summer Picnic (more info)

7/20 - SAN DIEGO: Psychedelic Awareness Salon & MAPS Fundraising Dinner with Rick Doblin, presented by Aware Project San Diego (more info)

7/31 - LONDON: Psychedelics & Non-Duality (more info)

8/9-11 - CAMPINAS: Sacred Plants conference (more info)

8/11 - SAN FRANCISCO: An Evening with Paul Stamets: Mushrooms & the Mycology of Consciousness (more info)

9/10-2/26/17 - LONDON: You Say You Want Revolution, Records & Rebels, 1966-1970, Victoria & Albert Museum (more info)

9/30-10/2 - PRAGUE, CZ: Beyond Psychedelics conference (more info)

10/14-10/15 - VICTORIA, BC: Psychedelic Psychotherapy Forum (more info)

10/17-10/22 - RIO BRANCO, BRAZIL: AYA2016 (more info)

11/11 - LEEDS, UK: Historical Insights on the Psychedelic Renaissance, Society for the Study of Addiction (more info)

See you tonight in Berkeley, perhaps!